A deep fear strikes out of the blue
Panic attacks can come without warning, triggering a sudden feeling of overwhelming dread. It’s more than feeling nervous, anxious, or stressed out about something. The surge that comes over you is intense and comes without any obvious reason, though often it’s linked to feeling physically trapped or agoraphobic. If your panic attacks are recurring, you can go on to develop panic disorder, which affects some 5 percent of Australians in their lifetime, slightly more women than men.
You feel like you’re losing your mind
Because of the intensity and sudden onset of the feelings, in addition to the physical panic attack symptoms that may arise at the same time, it’s not unusual to develop a “fear of going crazy” during a panic attack, says Todd Farchione, PhD. “I didn’t know what was going on,” explains one patient. “Your body doesn’t know what to do… Half your brain is telling you to run, and the other half is telling you to stay. You’re in kind of a deadlock.”
Your heart races
When you have a panic attack, your body responds as though it’s under an actual physical threat, escalating to a state of severe discomfort within minutes. A massive surge of nervous signals activates the amygdala, the brain’s evolutionary fight or flight centre, causing symptoms that include a rapid, pounding heart rate that can make you feel like you’re having a heart attack.
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