Panic Attacks

A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause. Panic attacks at night can be very frightening. When panic attacks occur, you might think you’re losing control, having a heart attack or even dying.

Many people have just one or two panic attacks in their lifetimes, and the problem goes away, perhaps when a stressful situation ends. But if you’ve had recurrent, unexpected panic attacks and spent long periods in constant fear of another attack, you may have a condition called panic disorder.

Although panic attacks themselves aren’t life-threatening, they can be frightening and significantly affect your quality of life. Treatment for panic attacks can be very effective.


Panic attacks typically begin suddenly, without warning. They can strike at any time — when you’re driving a car, at the mall, sound asleep or in the middle of a business meeting. You may have occasional panic attacks, or they may occur frequently.

Panic attacks have many variations, there can be a mini panic attack when falling asleep but symptoms usually peak within minutes. You may feel fatigued and worn out after a panic attack subsides.

Panic attacks typically include some of these signs or symptoms:

  • Sense of impending doom or danger
  • Fear of loss of control or death
  • Rapid, pounding heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Shortness of breath or tightness in your throat
  • Chills
  • Hot flashes
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or faintness
  • Numbness or tingling sensation
  • Feeling of unreality or detachment

One of the worst things about panic attacks is the intense fear that you’ll have another one. You may fear having panic attacks so much that you avoid certain situations where they may occur.

When to see a doctor

If you have panic attack symptoms, seek medical help as soon as possible. Panic attacks, while intensely uncomfortable, are not dangerous. But panic attacks are hard to manage on your own, and they may get worse without treatment.

Panic attack symptoms can also resemble symptoms of other serious health problems, such as a heart attack, so it’s important to get evaluated by your primary care provider if you aren’t sure what’s causing your symptoms.

Source: Mayo Clinic

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Panic Attacks:

Panic attacks typically last for several minutes, though they can feel like they go on forever. They are usually most intense for about 10 minutes. Some symptoms may last for a longer time, but the intense feeling of the attack tends to subside after about 10 to 20 minutes.

While it may not be possible to completely eliminate panic attacks forever, treatment strategies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes can significantly reduce their frequency and severity. It’s important to seek professional help to manage panic attacks effectively.

Techniques to manage nighttime panic attacks can include maintaining a regular sleep schedule, practicing good sleep hygiene, using relaxation techniques before bed, and seeking therapy to manage underlying stress or anxiety. Medication may also be recommended by a healthcare provider.

During a panic attack, it can help to practice deep breathing, ground yourself by focusing on your surroundings, and remind yourself that the panic attack will pass. However, these are only immediate coping mechanisms. Long-term management typically requires therapy, lifestyle adjustments, and sometimes medication.

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