What is a panic attack?
There’s a big difference between feeling nervous and having a full-blown panic attack. “A panic attack is a sudden state of intense fear or panic that often appears to come out of the blue,” explains Oklahoma City-based therapist Thai-An Truong, LPC, LADC. She says that the symptoms will peak in minutes and last about half an hour, but most people will feel the exhaustion and residual effects hours afterward. According to Truong, the most common symptoms are increased heart rate, heart palpitations, chest pain, sweating, shaking, difficulty breathing, and hyperventilating. What causes panic attacks depend on the individual, so identifying your personal panic attack triggers may help you to manage them. By cutting out some of these habits—with the help of a therapist if necessary—you may notice a difference in your overall anxiety levels. Learn to recognize the 10 clear signs of a panic attack.
Magnification—turning an event into something more serious than it is—can lead to you believing something that happens is “the end of the world,” or something that you “won’t survive.” “You may even interpret a moment of stress as you ‘going crazy,'” says Truong. People with phobias may tell themselves that the source of their fear will kill or severely harm them (e.g. the elevator will drop any minute; the germs will contaminate my child and kill them).