A panic attack can happen anywhere, at any time. You may feel terrified and overwhelmed, even though you’re not in any danger.
If this kind of random event has happened to you at least twice, and you constantly worry and change your routine to keep from having one, you might have panic disorder — a type of anxiety disorder.
One in 10 adults in the India has panic attacks each year. About a third of people have one in their lifetime. But most of them don’t have panic disorder. Only about 3% of adults have it, and it’s more common in women than in men.
A panic attack is a sudden strong feeling of fear. You’ll have four or more of these signs:
- Pounding or fast heartbeat
- Trembling or shaking
- Shortness of breath or a feeling of being smothered
- A choking feeling
- Chest pain
- Nausea or stomach pains
- Feeling dizzy or faint
- Chills or hot flashes
- Numbness or tingling in the body
- Feeling unreal or detached
- A fear of losing control or going crazy
- A fear of dying
An attack usually passes in 5-10 minutes, but it can linger for hours. It can feel like you’re having a heart attack or a stroke. So people with panic attacks often wind up in the emergency room for evaluation.
If left untreated, panic disorder can sometimes lead to agoraphobia, an intense fear of being outside or in enclosed spaces.