Everyone feels panicky from time to time, but a panic attack is a sudden feeling of terror that strikes for no discernible reason, and lasts anywhere from several minutes to, in more extreme circumstances, several hours. A panic attack is generally accompanied by a host of physical symptoms, ranging from a rapidly pounding heart, hot flashes, sweating or chills, and trembling. During a panic attack, a person may get very dizzy or may have sudden chest pains, difficulty breathing, or trouble swallowing. It's not uncommon for panic attacks to be accompanied by intestinal distress, like abdominal cramping and nausea. Additionally, a panic attack may come with tingling or numbness in the hands. During a panic attack, all of these symptoms may be SO intense that an individual experiencing them may feel he or she is losing control, having a heart attack, or even dying. Although it may seem like an eternity to the person having the episode, a panic attack generally reaches maximum intensity anywhere from within a minute to about ten minutes once them begin. And most attacks diminish slowly over the next half an hour, although some panic attacks can take hours, or even a full day to dissipate. It is common for the first attack to cause a person to go to an emergency medical facility. Subsequent attacks occur several times a month and are often as severe as the initial attack. About three fourths of Panic Disorder patients are women. Panic Anxiety Disorder begins most often when people are 20-30 years old. It begins less often in teenagers or persons in their forties. It is uncommon for the disorder to appear in the elderly for the first time. Panic attacks may strike at any time, without any warning, even when a sufferer is asleep. Due to this unpredictable nature, people who experience them often live in an anxious, fearful state about when the next attack may occur. When a person experiences frequent panic attacks, he or she may be diagnosed with a condition called panic disorder. Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder that affects anywhere from two to six million Americans. And while debilitating, the disorder CAN be effectively treated with therapy and medication. Though dependence on medication IS a danger of treatment. Remember: The symptoms of panic attacks can resemble those of life-threatening illnesses. So seek medical attention to rule out a more serious problem and to get started on a treatment course to relieve panic attacks!
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Last Updated:December 20, 2012