Panic attacks are instances of intense sudden anxiety, worry, and tension that often cause the sufferer to feel like they cannot breath. Over a period of time, panic attacks turn into panic disorder which can be even more serious, and may require medical intervention and supervision. Panic attacks and anxiety attacks result in elevated heartbeat, nausea, profuse sweating, and a feeling of uneasiness in the stomach. People in the initial stages of anxiety or panic disorder may even think that they are going crazy or are dying due to the extreme discomfort they experience.
Research indicates that panic attacks can also be associated with serious psychological disorders like bipolar disorder and that a combination of these two conditions may result in bipolar panic disorder.
Panic disorder signs are not easy to spot as their occurrence cannot be tied to a specific event or situation. The top five full-blown panic disorder symptoms include the following:
- Hyperventilation or shortness of breath: Patients afflicted with panic disorder are constantly anxious or worried about something. As the intensity of worry and panic increases, physiological symptoms like shortness of breath develop. The tightening of the muscles in the throat shuts off oxygen to the airways resulting in gasping and shortness of breath. Heavy breathing is very common in people suffering from anxiety or panic disorder.
- Heart palpitations: Other problems that heighten the symptoms of hyperventilation include a racing heart and heart palpitations. These panic disorder symptoms can be extremely intense, and there are cases in which people have been rushed to the hospital because they thought they were having a heart attack. Dizziness may also be experienced as a result of disturbed breathing due to an imbalance in the normal circulation of blood.
- Trembling or shaking: Uncontrollable and extreme emotions result in nervous tremors. People cannot keep their hands steady and tend to get very clumsy and lose motor control when they are in the middle of a series of panic attacks. Sometimes patients may also complain of a tingling sensations in their nerve endings or numbness. The sudden onset of recurrent panic attacks may cause this feeling too.
- Hot or cold flashes: Among the most common panic disorder signs are alternate hot and cold flashes that lead to a sudden rise and fall in body temperature. Patients shiver for a few minutes and then complain of feeling uncomfortably warm in a very short span of time. Due to the associated emotional discomfort and the turbulent state of mind, the body physically reacts to the underlying thoughts in people suffering from bipolar panic disorder or anxiety panic disorder.
- Uncontrollable and unexplained fear: When panic disorder is a result of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or agoraphobia, patients tend to be in constant fear of suffering from another panic attack and start avoiding the places where they had them earlier.
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