“I was on my way back from work on the subway, when I suddenly found it really hard to breathe. I was sweating, clutching at my tie desperately. I could feel my heart racing, and my knees felt very weak. I was terrified -I honestly thought I was going to die!” Have you ever experienced anything similar?
What is a panic attack?
A panic attack is much more than experiencing anxiety. Although it involves anxiety symptoms, such as palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, feeling weak, chest pains, trembling; it also includes the feeling that something terrifying is happening to you, such as losing control, going crazy, or even having a heart attack. This is why when someone suffers from a panic attack they desperately try to escape from the situation, and might even go to ER to check that they’re not dying.
What can happen after a panic attack
After having experienced a panic attack, some people can then develop frequent panic attacks and/or worry constantly about having another one. This is what is known as Panic Disorder, where you’d constantly be worrying about having another panic attack and its consequences (losing control, fainting, etc). In other cases, people fear being in a place where it would be hard to get out of if they did have a panic attack, and therefore begin to avoid certain places (supermarkets, public transport, the cinema, etc), leading them to isolate and even struggle to leave their house.