Is your daily schedule making you stressed? This can make your mind wander into really unhealthy areas. Over 11% of American adults experience a panic attack at least once a year. At this rate, you’re going to need to know the symptoms. Let’s talk about some of them today.
Do you have this constant feeling of danger? Are you getting chills out of nowhere? Are you having trouble breathing? We’re talking all that AND more, so stay tuned.
Shortness of breath
Have you ever been so stressed out, that you have trouble breathing? This is common for people living with panic attacks. What’s especially scary is that it will happen out of the blue.
When you have a random thought that overwhelms you, your body’s fight-or-flight response is triggered. Since your brain can’t escape this thought, your body begins to react in several different ways. One of them is heavy breathing.
Now, it’s important to point out the difference between shortness of breath and hyperventilation. Shortness of breath is when your lungs are unable to take in the proper amount of oxygen. Hyperventilation is when you start breathing faster. While the two are different, shortness of breath can easily lead to hyperventilation. Since you can’t breathe properly, you start breathing faster and heavier. This causes you to hyperventilate. This will only intensify the amount of stress you’re feeling.
If you are having problems breathing during a panic attack, try breathing in through your nose, and then out through your mouth. Make sure you’re doing it very slowly. Maybe even count to five before exhaling. This can help relax your mind and get your breathing back to normal.
Your body does a lot of weird things when you’re stressed. If you’re having a panic attack, it’s pretty common to also feel a weird chill run through your body.
These chills happen due to poor blood flow. When you’re feeling really anxious, your blood doesn’t flow as easily, making you feel cold. Sometimes, the chill is so intense you actually start to shiver. This can happen regardless of the temperature in the room. It can be a perfectly warm summer day, and you’ll feel like putting a jacket on.
It’s not just cold temperature that hits your body. Panic attacks can also give you hot flashes. This is again due to your body’s fight-or-flight response. When your body senses danger, its first instinct is to try and escape. Since there’s no way to escape your thoughts, you react by heating up inside.
This is usually accompanied by an increased heart rate, along with a boost in adrenaline– Which brings us to our next sign.
A rise in your body’s temperature can cause you to start sweating. I’m not just talking about one or two drops of sweat beating from your forehead. A panic attack can make you feel like your body’s completely soaked.
Sweating happens when your heart rate increases. During your panic attack, your heart begins to pump harder, raising your body temperature and giving you that sudden rush of adrenaline. By the end, you’ll feel like you’ve run a marathon.
Now during a panic attack, it may be hard for you to take a seat. Your mind is running in a million different directions, which hurts your ability to sit and relax. When you feel ready, find a place to sit and practice that breathing technique we just mentioned. It gives your body a chance to cool down.
Really bad chest pain
There are few things scarier than unexplained chest pains. Like shortness of breath, it can happen out of nowhere. All you need is to be just a little worked up, and you’ll start feeling that tension.
During a panic attack, the chest pain will feel sharp. It will be almost as if a person is stabbing you in the middle of your chest. You’ll feel an uncomfortable squeeze.
The worst part of chest pains is that it’s one of the most common symptoms of a panic attack. Studies have shown that just about 70% of panic attacks include some type of tension in the chest. This discomfort usually comes with palpitations and shortness of breath.
The upside to this is that panic-related chest pains only last up to about 10 minutes. Make sure you’re keeping track of time if this is one of your symptoms. If your chest pain lasts longer than that, you might need to see a doctor.
Fear of losing control
Let’s get into some of the mental effects of panic attacks. One of the reasons you’re here in the first place is because you’re constantly anxious. You have this lingering fear of something going wrong. You just can’t put your finger on it.
During a panic attack, these feelings of danger only intensify. Again, your body’s fight-or-flight mechanism is to blame for this. Look, we all want to be in control. Worrying is our brain’s realization that something is actually out of our hands. In some cases, there is a constant feeling of actual danger. Like your personal wellbeing is at risk. This only causes your anxiety to increase.
In some cases, you’ll even find yourself lashing out at people around you. This is why it’s good to reach out to someone at this moment and let them know what’s happening.
Some people feel much more comfortable around others when they’re having anxiety, especially if those people have gone through the same thing.
Fear and confusion are not the only things that happen to your brain during an attack. You’ll probably have a headache as well. Headaches are bad enough when you generally feel okay. A headache during a panic attack is a whole different ball game.
Panic-related headaches will feel like this extreme pounding happening in your head. It’s normally accompanied by sweating, chest pain and chills. So not only do you have to deal with a headache at this moment, your entire body’s in pain.
The good news is that these headaches usually come at the very peak of your panic attack. So, it should be over soon. All you can do is wait it out and hope for the best.
Numbness or tingling
Feeling extreme pain is one thing, but how about when you don’t feel anything at all? Panic attacks can bring on sudden numbness. You feel nothing in these moments. It’s almost as if certain body parts have fallen asleep.
If it’s not complete numbness, the strongest sensation you feel is a slight tingle. You’ll usually feel it in your arms and legs. The tingling will make your feet feel like you’re walking on pins and needles. On rare occasions, you’ll feel the tingling in your face.
This numbness is due to your shortness of oxygen. Since your body isn’t getting the right amount of air, your blood isn’t flowing as easily. The more you hyperventilate, the more numbness you’ll feel. Again, we need to stress the importance of proper breathing techniques.
The numbness and tingling will usually last between 20-30 minutes. In the meantime, it’s best to find a place where you can relax, breathe and let your body wind down.
Abdominal pain and digestive problems
Panic attacks take a toll on your entire body. It seems like there’s not one function it doesn’t affect. Being in a constant state of anxiety can do damage to your digestive system. Either it takes too long to digest food, or it goes straight through you.
When you’re in a state of panic, it’s normal to feel discomfort in your midsection. This is usually your stomach telling you that it’s having trouble digesting. Along with your stomach, your gastrointestinal tract will also be acting up. This causes you to have really intense diarrhea. So, not only will you be left with a headache, and chest pain, but you’ll also be rushing to the bathroom.
You see, your brain and your stomach are directly connected. I bet you’ve never thought about that. Your gut contains hundreds of millions of neurons which are linked to your nervous system. When your brain is feeling anxious, these neurons are activated, causing your digestive system to react.
Dizziness can be brought on by countless different things. When you’ve worked up about something, your brain will become overwhelmed, leaving you with a lack of balance.
This is due to your shortness of breath. Again, your body isn’t taking in oxygen, making it a lot harder for your brain to function. While you’re busy hyperventilating, your mind is going through its own struggle. At a certain point, you’ll almost feel like you’re about to faint.
It’s important in these situations to find a place to sit. You don’t want to lose your balance and fall to the ground. This will only make your problems worse. If you pass out, you could hit your head on a hard surface.
What you want to do is have a seat, and breathe slowly. With the right amount of air coming in, your attack should be over soon.
Your mental health is so important. Luckily, there are ways to prevent these attacks.