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Panic Attacks

About Panic Attacks

If you have ever experienced panic, then you know it can be scary and overwhelming. Panic attacks are the body’s fight-or-flight response kicking in to help us flee or defend ourselves from danger.  This response becomes problematic when it begins to go off when there is no real danger. Panic attacks are common for people experiencing anxiety, OCD, stress, and PTSD/trauma. Panic attacks peak within 10 minutes and leave your body feeling completely drained.  Even if you don’t experience full-blown panic attacks, your body may be experiencing physiological reactivity to stress. You may feel these symptoms permeate a significant portion of your day. 


People experiencing panic attacks may get diagnosed with Panic Disorder. To meet criteria for this diagnosis, you have to have a fear of experiencing a future attack or changed your behaviours or limited your functioning due to this fear. For example, if you fear having an attack in a large group of people, you may start avoid things you have historically enjoyed such as parties and concerts. 


Take inventory of your symptoms. The following are some common panic and physical reactivity symptoms: 


  • Increased heart rate
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Chest constriction 
  • Choking sensation
  • Muscle tension 
  • Sweating 
  • Dizziness 
  • Numbness in fingers and toes 
  • Feeling the world around you isn’t real 
  • Trembling or shaking