What a Panic Attack Feels Like


Understanding what a panic attack feels like when you've never experienced one can be a difficult task. The words “panic attack” are often watered down in everyday jargon. “I’m having a panic attack!” is code for “I’m freaking out about this test” or “I’m really stressed about a problem I don’t know how to solve.” Exaggerated panic attacks also make great comedy, it seems, as lovable but slightly anxious characters breathe into paper bags while giving the appearance of a complete loss of control over something fairly insignificant.

In reality, however, panic attacks are anything but funny. Anyone who has endured a panic attack knows that the symptoms are sudden, frightening, and difficult to manage. They can be so severe, that oftentimes, they are mistaken for heart attacks.

No Warning:

One of the most difficult parts of panic attacks is that they typically occur without warning. They can swoop in from out of nowhere, with no oncoming symptoms.

Common Symptoms:

  • Chest pain
  • A feeling of choking
  • Trembling
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Feeling like your limbs are going numb or tingling
  • Fear of dying
  • Fear of losing control
  • Intrusive, highly anxious thoughts

Some Common Coping Strategies:

  • Deep breathing
  • Coping statements
  • Distraction


For more information on therapeutic options and other ways to help manage and reduce panic and anxiety, contact us now.