By: Chris Anderson Psy.D

Most people are not sure if they have ever had a panic attack until they hear exactly what they are. Many people have experienced heightened levels of anxiety at various times in their life, but panic attacks bring it to the highest level and are very alarming. Panic attacks are typically triggered by intense worry or anxiety, but end up triggering a severe physical reaction. Most describe a feeling of losing control or wonder if they are having a heart attack.

Panic Attack Symptoms

Symptoms of a panic attack often feel like they hit suddenly, without warning, and seemingly out of nowhere. A panic attack may last for five minutes or as long as a half-hour, but become very intense within minutes. Symptoms can include racing heart, chest pains, sweats, shakes, chills, nausea, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, a sense of doom or dying, hot flashes, or headaches. Given the intensity of them, many people begin to develop a fear or anxiety about experiencing another one, which can create a snowball effect or even cause people to avoid going out for fear of having one in public situations.

Causes of Panic Attacks

Although there is no known cause for panic attacks, some research points to genetics, environmental stressors, the experience of traumatic events, and struggles with generalized anxiety. While panic attacks are very difficult to endure and tolerate, they are not life-threatening despite feeling like they are. It is best to seek the help of a psychiatrist and/or psychologist who can help you better understand panic attacks and try to help you figure out the source of them. Often, in the beginning, they seem to come out of the blue, however as things progress they are often triggered by fairly specific situations, events, or ways of thinking. Risk factors for having panic attacks include past trauma, abuse, excess smoking or caffeine use, family history of panic attacks (genetics), or high levels of stressors.

Left untreated panic attacks can worsen and increase in frequency. Many people are at risk to develop more persistent anxiety problems, develop phobias (driving or going out in public), are at risk to self-medicate with substance abuse, or sink into depression resulting from feeling helpless and hopeless. Don’t let one problem evolve into even more problems. Panic attacks can be effectively treated with medication, therapy, or both.

If you want to talk with one of our psychiatrists or psychologists learn more about panic attacks, please call us now at 763-416-4167, or request an appointment on our website: WWW.IPC-MN.COM so we can sit down with you and complete thorough assessment and help you develop a plan of action that will work for you. Life is too short to be unhappy. Find the peace of mind you deserve.

To get more great resources, sign up for our newsletter, like us on FaceBook, or follow us on Twitter.

Innovative Psychological Consultants

Peace of Mind You Deserve

Schedule An Appointment

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Looking for a Therapist or Psychiatrist?