What’s a Panic Attack and What do They Mean?

Panic attacks are jarring episodes caused by heightened anxiety levels that can come with debilitating, physically painful symptoms. They are scary to experience but are pretty common for a person who is experiencing higher levels of anxiety due to outside stressors. However, people who experience panic attacks often and don’t have traditional reasons to be experiencing higher levels of anxiety may be dealing with a specific anxiety disorder, Panic Disorder. So, if you’re wondering if you are experiencing panic attacks or if you’ve developed Panic Disorder, it can be helpful to understand the answer to the question, “what’s a panic attack and what do they mean?”.

What’s a Panic Attack?

A panic attack is an episode of severe anxiety that can be particularly frightening – especially to people who have never experienced them before. Typically, people who experience panic attacks get no warning before one begins. So, because there is no warning, they can happen at any time or anywhere. This can be especially dangerous while doing certain activities like driving or operating other heavy machinery. And, can even be embarrassing if they happen in public places like at school or work. Panic attacks can differ from person to person, but for most people, a panic attack is over after about 10-20 minutes. But, since they’re so overwhelming, most people who have panic attacks may feel exhausted and mentally drained after a panic attack happens.

Some Symptoms of Panic Attacks

Not sure if what you’re experiencing is a panic attack? Most people don’t understand the experience of a panic attack until they’ve experienced one themselves. So, it can be helpful to understand and identify some of the symptoms of panic attacks. Symptoms of panic attacks can include:

  • intense feelings of doom and despair
  • extreme fear
  • increased heart rate
  • chest pains
  • feeling like you’re going to faint
  • numbing feelings
  • tingling of the hands or feet
  • feeling hot suddenly
  • challenged breathing
  • shaking uncontrollably
  • stomach pains
  • nausea
  • sweating and chills

How do I Know if I Have Panic Disorder?

Panic attacks can make you feel like you’re going to die – even though you won’t die from a panic attack. However, this severe fear of death and the intense, unpleasantness of a panic attack creates more fear. Specifically, a fear of more panic attacks, which can actually make the cycle of panic attacks worse and the risk of more panic attacks increase. Panic attacks can happen to anyone. But, if you’ve developed an intense fear of panic attacks and find that you’re having frequent or even occasional panic attacks, this can mean that you’re living with Panic Disorder. Panic Disorder is an anxiety disorder that can be diagnosed only by mental health specialists like a psychotherapist or psychiatrists. So, if you believe that you are living with Panic Disorder, it’s best to get a medical diagnosis from a mental health specialist before considering treatment.

Help for Panic Disorder at Delray Beach Psychiatrist

If you receive a diagnosis of Panic Disorder, there is help available. Treatment can help to identify the causes of anxiety that lead to panic attacks. And, provide you with the tools you need to manage anxiety and, in return, panic attacks. Therapies and treatment are available on an outpatient basis at Delray Beach Psychiatrist. Contact us today for more information and to set up a consultation with one of our mental health consultants.

Dr. Raul J. Rodriguez

Dr. Raul Rodriguez


Existing patients, please text 561-409-7296 for follow-up appointment requests or if you have medication concerns please text 561-409-7296.