Just wondered: What exactly is a panic attack?

United States
April 7, 2007 1:51pm CST
And how do you know if you're having one? I think I have them, but I'm not sure. I have the light-headedness & dizziness. The feeling that I'm going to faint, and the heart racing. It usually happens when I'm in a crowded place. Like today, when I went to the grocery store. Part of it, I'm sure, was from sleep deprivation & because I hadn't eaten anything since last night. But I have a terrible fear of crowds. I usually avoid shopping at malls or even grocery shopping around the holidays (esp. Christmas). Just wondered how to be sure if that's what these really are.
6 people like this
11 responses
@Jezebella (1446)
• United States
3 Apr 09
I think the reactions are different for different people. When I have a panic attack it feels like someone is pushing on my chest, I have a hard time breathing like I can't draw a breath, and I get lightheaded. I cannot be in crowds alone...I need someone there with me, and I used to not be able to drive alone, but since i have been on medication it has gotten easier.
@ladyljs (1303)
• United States
15 Apr 07
You sound as though you have experienced a panic attack. I started having these for no apparent reason about 2 years ago. My heart starting racing to 140 beats per minute, I felt faint and dizzy...thinking tha ti was having a heart attack, I had my husband rush me to the emergency room. The did xrays, blood tests, ekgs, and even hooked me up to a 24 hour monitor. The results all came back ok..so the doctors put me on effexor and atenolol. since then, i have had two more pretty severe episodes, each requiring a trip to the emergency room at a cost of about $2400 each (and that hurts with no insurance). I have also just recently had a stress test...everything shows my heart as ok...so i have to just admit that i am having a panic attack. panic attacks can be very scary. Talk to your docs about medication. Hope that all is well with you. Best of luck in the future.
@melman (129)
• United States
8 Apr 07
whats up
@emeraldisle (13145)
• United States
8 Apr 07
Sounds like what I go through with crowds as well. The whole can't breath, dizziness, pressure on the chest, feeling faint and just wanting to run away and hide. If it helps I have a big problem with stores as well. I try going at the off times when most people aren't there. Really early in the morning or very late at night. That way they aren't as crowded. Forget the holidays, I can't go near the stores then unless it's like to Wal-Mart at 3 in the morning. I would double check with your doctor to make sure nothing else is going on but it does sound like a panic attack. Welcome to the world of agoraphobia (yes that is one name for fear of crowds) some other names for it include: Demophobia Enochiophobia Ochlophobia Sociophobia
@tatzkie (644)
• Philippines
8 Apr 07
i think i have panic attacks too. i experience this especially at night. I feel so scared of something but i dont know what. I start to collect all pillows around me and i feel like something gonna attack me. seldom it also happens when im sitting in a bus or jeepney. its really weird.
@dbeast (1498)
• India
8 Apr 07
well i feel the same way when i am in crowded places too.my heart races and i find it really difficult to breathe.i do have the same issue when i am underwater.i just cant stand to be underwater.i start panicking.even when i take my shower i can get real panicky.i somehow feel like i am suffocating and try to get out of it.it is really scary at times.
• United States
8 Apr 07
I have had several of them. Its been a while. I used to get them at one of my jobs a lot. It includes heavy breathing, hard to breath, heart pounding, feeling dizzy. Some have to breath into paper bags to breath. I just tried to calm down and prayed for it to stop. My mom used to worry it was me having a heart attack (even though I'm not that old I'm not super healthy!) but I assured it was panic attacks and nothing else. They can seem like a heart attack though and I hate them. Of course if you have worse pains in the heart it could be a heart attack. Check into it and look it up online and see if anything comes up. Or talk to your doctor!
@kaperkitty (1097)
• Canada
7 Apr 07
I have suffered panic attacks for about 10 years now and sorry my friend it sounds like you have experienced pretty much textbook panic attacks..it really does feel like a heart attack .I know for me it felt like a bar across my chest i was struggling against to get up..It physically hurt to breathe. I felt like a trapped animal..I broke out in a cold sweat i could hear my heart beating in my ears it must have been beating 1000 beats a minute well not really but it felt that way. and i was faint and weak..after it passed all i wanted to do was sleep..My panic attacks would usually occur in crowds or times of extreme stress much like your triggers I hope some of my experiences help you Cheryl
7 Apr 07
Hi gwendovere, sorry to say this but I think its the start of a panic attack, I have suffered from them myself, they can honestly ruin your life as you avoid the situations that might trigger them off, like crowds or closed spaces, meditation might help or learning how to breathe correctly, in through the nose and out of the mouth, (do this very slowly) always try to stay calm and concentrate on just breathing slowly, some people just breath into a brown paper bag make sure your nose and mouth are covered, hope this helps!
@1983tyler (508)
• United States
7 Apr 07
That sounds like a panic attack to me. I get the same way in crowded places. My husband is really great and does the grocery shopping for me. I just can't take the crowds of people. I try to do all my shopping online. I avoid the malls at holidays. I find that I can usually find what I need online. My doctor has given me medication for my panic attacks, but I still can't go where it is crowded.
@eaforeman6 (8983)
• United States
7 Apr 07
these are links that give information on and about these attacks. Panic attack - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia A panic attack is a period of intense, often temporarily debilitating, sense of extreme fear or psychological distress, typically of abrupt onset. ... en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panic_attack http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panic_attack Panic attacks - MayoClinic.com Panic attacks produce sudden symptoms of intense fear. Effective treatments are available. www.mayoclinic.com/health/panic-attacks/DS00338 http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/panic-attacks/DS00338 Panic Attacks (Panic Disorders) Symptoms, Causes and Treatment on .... Read about panic attack (panic disorder) symptoms, causes (stress, anxiety, fear) and treatment (medication, psychotherapy). Learn how to prevent panic ... www.medicinenet.com/panic_disorder/article.htm http://www.medicinenet.com/panic_disorder/article.htm Panic Attack Symptoms by MedicineNet.com Panic attacks are sudden feelings of terror that strike without warning. Panic attack symptoms include: feeling weak or dizzy, racing heart beat, ... www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=5