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What Are Panic Attacks?

Some people are quick to brush off panic attacks as someone “just” having anxiety or being scared of something, but panic attacks are a real medical condition that’s no laughing matter. When a panic attack comes on, a person is struck with sudden fear, anxiety, and terror that is so paralyzing they often feel like they can’t breathe. A panic attack can happen at any time. Some people even wake up in the middle of a panic attack that started while they were sleeping.

While panic attacks may not necessarily be harmful by themselves, the way they make you feel can actually bring on several issues. For example, during a panic attack you might find it hard to catch your breathe. This can actually trigger even more breathing issues. Panic attacks may not necessarily cause any true physical damage, but they can certainly make you feel like you’re about to die.

At least six million adults suffer from panic disorder in the U.S., although health experts expect there are many more who haven’t reported their condition to their doctors. Two-thirds of those with panic disorder are women. Children usually do not suffer from panic attacks—the disorder normally doesn’t develop until early adulthood.


A panic attack includes more than just fear and anxiety. Here are some of the most common symptoms:

• Feeling dizzy and weak
• Having numbness or a tingling feeling in the fingers and hands
• Sweating
• Sudden chills
• Pain in the chest
• Difficulty breathing

Usually, a panic attack lasts no more than about ten minutes, although the symptoms can last longer.

Causes and Possible Solutions

No one is really certain what causes this condition, and the trigger for a panic attack is different for every person. Sometimes what causes a panic attack one day will not cause an episode the next, so it’s even inconsistent from day to day.

Stress can be a huge factor in panic attacks, so a natural and, in fact, the best way of dealing with an attack is to eliminate the cause. Sit down and work out what is making you unhappy, then work to change it if you can. If your work is stressing you out, it may be time to find a new job or to sit down with your boss and discuss your responsibilities.

Another issue can be your diet. Eating foods that are low in nutrients and full of sugars can actually lead to panic attacks. If you’re having a lot of these attacks, try cutting back on the junk food.

Finally, if you learn how to breathe properly through yoga or meditation, it can help you relax and take focus away from the panic. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. However, don’t do this only while you’re having a panic attack. Practice your breathing every day so it won’t be as difficult to relax when you’re in the midst of an attack.


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These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, or cure any diseases.