An estimated 2.4 million Americans experience symptoms of panic disorder each year, with women twice as likely to experience them. If you’ve never had a panic attack, your first one may seem very frightening. You may feel as though you are going to die – thankfully, panic attacks are not deadly, but their symptoms can make you feel like something is very wrong. If you’ve had a panic attack before, you may be fearing another one. Recognizing the signs of a panic attack can be very helpful and may allow you to take preventative measures before you reach a full-blown panic attack; the following are some symptoms to look out for:
- Racing heart – A normal activity level for heart rate is anywhere between 60 to 100 beats per minute, depending on a person’s demographics, health, and lifestyle. A panic attack can cause the heart rate to increase from up to 8 to 20 more beats per minute; naturally, most of the time, this increase dissipates within 30 minutes.
- Feeling sweaty or having chills – When a panic attack occurs, the body’s stress response goes into overdrive. Constriction of blood vessels may cause you to experience hot flashes, and cold chills are often only recognized as a result of sweating to help cool the body down.
- Experiencing chest pain – Muscle contractions in the chest wall may occur during a panic attack, and your chest may feel sore for a few hours to a few days after.
- Shortness of breath – During a panic attack, a change in your normal breathing pattern emerges; your breathing may become more shallow or restricted. Instead of filling our lungs with full breaths, we often take short, quick breaths. Hyperventilation extends from this, as it’s when we take too many breaths, thus causing the carbon dioxide levels in our blood to decrease. It’s best to practice relaxation exercises when this is occurring to normalize your breathing pattern.
- Nausea – Many people who experience panic attacks also experience pain, discomfort, or nausea in the abdomen area.
If you feel you are about to have a panic attack, find a place to rest. If you’re at work, go to the restroom or sit down outside; if you’re with friends, excuse yourself. Drink some water if you can, and take big, deep breaths in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Call up a close, supportive friend if you can so that you can feel supported. If your chest pains are escalating, or you’re experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, dial 911 immediately.
Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 855-668-9094 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you.