What Does an Anxiety/Panic Attack Feel Like?

What happens during a panic attack is that adrenaline is rapidly released throughout the body. This is the fight-or-flight response, the evolutionary self-preservation method. That adrenaline causes muscles to tense and causes your heart to beat even faster. Because of the rapid heart beat and contracted muscles, we tend to breathe in more oxygen which our muscles convert into energy. Our digestive system stops, conserving and preserving excess energy. The senses are drastically heightened, you’re hyper aware of smells and sounds. The body is physically and mentally prepared in case we need to fight for our lives or run from hazardous situations.
Because of the excess adrenaline flooding the body, you may experience various uncomfortable symptoms such as:

  • Feeling claustrophobic
  • Feeling sheer terror
  • Tingling in your hands or feet
  • Nausea
  • Uncontrollable crying
  • Ringing in your ears
  • Hot and cold flashes
  • Depersonalization. Feeling not a part of your body.
  • Tightness in the chest/lungs and feeling like you can’t catch your breath
  • Sweating or shivering
  • Blurred vision
  • Disorientation
  • Feeling waves of coldness on your head
  • Feeling like you’re spiraling out of control
  • Fearful that you’re losing your sanity
  • Unexplained frustration

In short, a panic attack is a messy explosion of nervous expression fueled by adrenaline.
A panic attack comes very quickly and most of the time without warning. In general, a panic attack lasts around 5 to 20 minutes. Personally, most of my panic attacks last around 30 minutes. It’s quite possible for an attack to last longer either by experiencing one panic attack after another, or experiencing high anxiety after an attack.
It’s difficult to predict what will bring on a panic attack or knowing when a panic attack might occur, but recognizing the symptoms of an attack can give you a head start in finding relief during panic attacks.

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