Panic attacks are the main symptom of panic disorder, but they can occur with other mental health and medical conditions. It's helpful to explore the most common symptoms of panic, what causes them, and management strategies for each.
Heart Palpitations or Accelerated Heart Rate
When experiencing a panic attack, many people feel as though their heart is pounding. Heart palpitations are often fearfully perceived, as many people who experience panic attacks believe that they are a sign of a medical emergency such as a heart attack.
However, an accelerated heart rate is normal when it comes to panic attacks (or even when you're nervous or excited). It is associated with the fight-or-flight response you are experiencing. If you notice your heart racing, a strategy as simple as deep breathing can help you get it back in control.
Trembling or Shaking
When having a panic attack you may feel trembling sensations, especially in the arms, legs, hands, and feet. Similar to other panic attack symptoms, uncontrollable trembling and shaking are a result of the fight-or-flight reaction, which prepares the body to either fight off or flee from a real or imagined threat in the environment.
This response is triggered frequently in people with panic disorder and often without cause, but options like talk therapy, and in some cases medication, may help in the management of this. Meditation, deep breathing, and acknowledging that you're having a panic attack may also help.
As anxious feelings arise, it's not uncommon to begin to sweat. Much like other anxiety-related symptoms, excessive sweating is part of the body’s innate stress response.
The type of sweating can vary. You may experience either a cold or hot sweat or both. You may sweat from your underarms, forehead, or multiple parts of your body. You may or may not experience chills or hot flashes along with the sweating.
While uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing to deal with, know that excessive sweating is not necessarily harmful. Finding strategies to calm yourself down can help decrease the stress response leading to the sweating. Once again, something as simple as relaxed breathing can go a long way in stopping the symptom.
Nausea or Abdominal Pain
Panic attacks can cause sensations of discomfort, nausea, or pain in the abdominal region.
Most people don't vomit when having a panic attack, but it's not uncommon to feel nauseous until the attack subsides.
Dizziness and Lightheadedness
When going through a panic attack, you may begin to feel dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint. This makes it hard to focus and can heighten anxiety.
Although uncommon, it's possible for someone experiencing a panic attack to faint. If you experience these symptoms, go ahead and sit or lie down, preferably somewhere quiet. Close your eyes and focus on your breath to help you come out of the panic attack.
Numbness and Tingling Sensations
Feelings of numbness and tingling can also occur during a panic attack. Areas of the body may have pins-and-needles sensations or feel completely frozen and numb. These symptoms can occur anywhere on the body but are most often felt in the hands, arms, legs, fingers, toes, and face.
You can refer to this: