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What Happens During A Panic Attack?

Around 6 million adults living in the United States live with an anxiety disorder. Though panic and anxiety are different from one another, panic attacks and panic disorders are considered anxiety disorders. Anxiety attacks and panic attacks have a single but importance difference: during a panic attack, you feel as though you are going to die.

The Attack Before The Attack

There’s a sudden feeling of dis-ease right before a panic attack. Something begins to feel increasingly “not right” or that there is the development of something very wrong happening. The feeling is completely out of control which quickly becomes unnerving. Panic attacks are preceded by feelings of fear and simultaneous dread. Common beliefs are heart attack, mental breakdown, or death is about to occur, beyond their control.

As The Attack Builds

While psychological symptoms start to spin out of control, the body reacts. Sweating, shakiness, feeling unsteady or disconnected from the body is common. An increased heart rate adds to the feelings of panic as well does feeling like one is unable to breathe.

The Height Of A Panic Attack

Thankfully, the climax of a panic attack is a sign that it will soon be over. Though the individual does not die or suffer a heart attack they reach a sort of climactic feeling as though all of the pressure in their head and their body comes to a boiling point. They might start crying and shaking, but will start to gain a sense that the symptoms are dwindling.

After The Attack

Feeling unsteady and shaken up after a panic attack is typical. The length of a panic attack usually lasts anywhere from ten to twenty five minutes. Shivers, exhaustion, and a peculiar onset of diarrhea are after effects of a panic attack. Worst is the residual anxiety. After enduring something so intense, people become afraid they will have to go through it again. For up to a week or two after a panic attack, they will feel a lot more fear toward their own feelings.

How To Help Someone

Act as an anchor and ground yourself in the reality of the situation, not giving into their fears. Remind them it is a panic attack and that it will end soon. Take deep breaths and encourage them to continue breathing with you. Assure them that they are safe and everything is fine in the immediate moment.
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