A panic attack is an acute and extremely intense period of anxiety.  It is not uncommon for people to feel that they are going to die when they have their first panic attack, and can take some time to recover from.

Usually people experience panic attacks in the context of extreme stress or emotional overwhelm, and not all people who experience a panic attack go onto develop panic disorder or social anxiety or phobia.

Typical symptoms of a panic attack are:

  • Palpitations, pounding heart or accelerated heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Senstationsof shortness of breath or smothering
  • Feeling of choking
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Nausea or abdominal pain
  • Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded or faint
  • Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy
  • Fear of dying
  • Numbness or tingling sensations in ahds or feet
  • Chills or hot flushes

Panic disorder is a recurrent pattern of panic attacks, and is usually related to what is called an “anticipatory fear” of having further panic attacks.  It can result in intense fear of particular situations where the panic attacks have occurred, and avoidance of any situation where one cannot easily leave or escape from.

Approximately 6 million American adults ages 18 and older, or about 2.7 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have panic disorder.

Are panic attacks related to social anxiety?

It is quite common for people who have Social Anxiety Disorder to have experienced panic attacks.  Fear of having further panic attacks can fuel avoidance and cause major disruptions to people’s lives.


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