For Panic Attacks, 
Anxiety and Phobias

Panic & Anxiety Symptoms

Symptoms of Anxiety Problems or a Panic Attack

There are a number of symptoms which you may have experienced not only during your first, but also during subsequent attacks. See if any of these sound familiar:

“My body froze like a statue. My pulse would race very, very fast. My sense of reasoning and perception would become completely muddled and confused.”

“Terrifying.”

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“A ringing in my ears would occur and my body temperature dropped.”

“It happens very suddenly - I feel faint, hot and sweaty. My heart beats rapidly. I feel I can’t move or speak and that I just want to lie down. My stomach and chest are churning inside.”

“Numbness in my hands and then this feeling that I couldn’t breathe. A feeling I was going to have a heart attack and a dryness in the mouth. Hearing my heart going; palpitations and an overwhelming fear that I was going to have a heart attack and die.”

“A tingling sensation down my left arm. A constant pain above my chest; also tightness of the chest. A cold sweat. The need to breathe in more air. Total panic and shakes. I had thoughts of fear that it was a heart attack.”

And one man listed his symptoms as: “High heart rate; sweating; flushing sensation in head; twitching muscles; feeling of coldness in hands and feet; wanting to go to the toilet. I thought I would collapse or faint, or even die.” Of course he didn’t, and hasn’t since. Neither has anyone else. Neither will you. But the feelings you have are incredibly unpleasant to say the least, and the full horror is difficult to convey to someone who has never experienced them.

Common anxiety symptoms include:


Body (anxiety symptoms commonly associated with the body in general):


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) lists the full range of physical symptoms which people may experience during a panic attack. These are:

The manual describes the panic attack as: A discrete period of intense fear or discomfort, in which four (or more) of the above symptoms developed abruptly and reached a peak within ten minutes.

There should be no obvious life threatening situation setting them off.

You probably won’t experience all these things at the same time. Apparently, people on average tend to report having about seven different symptoms. Besides the physical sensations, people tend to share similar thoughts and feelings too. These are:

Many sufferers experience more than four sensations. The sort of sensations they notice may not be exactly the same one week as another week. What bothers one person may not bother another.

The term “limited panic attacks” is used when someone suffers from only one or two of these feelings out of the blue. I’m saying “only” one or two, but this gives the wrong impression, because for these people one or two of these sensations catching them unawares can be worrying, aggravating and frequent enough to spoil their lives.

Although terrifying, none of these thoughts and feelings ever comes to anything. There is no evidence that anyone has ever died from a panic attack, and no one has ever gone crazy. Neither has anyone completely lost control of him or herself. There is no evidence of any¬thing bad ever happening to anyone during a panic attack, no matter how frightened they have felt. So be reassured that although what you feel is extremely unpleasant, you will come to no harm. It’s important that you realise this.

There is one particular combination of symptoms which is quite common and worth mentioning: palpitations, sweating, shortness of breath and a fear that you might be dying. It’s important only because those who have this combination tend to think they’re having a heart attack, like a few of the people quoted above. Typically, they may rush themselves to hospital, fearing the worst, only to find that the doctors pronounce their heart is strong and sound. Although people obviously feel a great deal of relief in being told that, they can also leave the hospital feeling confused and still somewhat frightened if the doctor doesn’t reassure them enough. They know they felt something powerful, very real and frightening, and without a proper explanation they may still harbour fears that they haven’t been told the truth, or that perhaps next time it will be a real heart attack.

Chest (anxiety symptoms commonly associated with the chest area):



Emotions (see mood) (anxiety symptoms commonly associated with emotions, mood, and feelings):


Fears (anxiety symptoms commonly associated with fear):



Head (anxiety symptoms commonly associated with the head):


Hearing/Ear(s) (anxiety symptoms commonly associated with hearing):


Mind (anxiety symptoms commonly associated with the mind and thinking):


Mood / Emotions (anxiety symptoms commonly associated with mood, emotions, and feelings):



Mouth/Stomach (anxiety symptoms commonly associated with the mouth and stomach):



Skin (anxiety symptoms commonly associated with the skin):


Sleep (anxiety symptoms commonly associated with sleep):

 


Sight (anxiety symptoms commonly associated with sight):




Touch (anxiety symptoms commonly associated with touch):




Other anxiety symptoms are described as:


Being like a hypochondriac, muscle twinges, worry all the time, tingles, gagging, tightness in the chest, tongue twitches, shaky, breath lump, heart beat problems, head tingles, itchy tingling in arms and legs, and so many more.


In addition to these anxiety symptoms, you may also find yourself worrying compulsively about:


These are some of the common panic and anxiety symptoms. But there are more that are not on the above list.

The Diagnosis of Panic Attacks and Anxiety Problems

Why the anxiety symptoms appear and what you can do to eliminate them is described on other pages of this web site.

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