What is a Panic Attack?

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Individuals with an anxiety disorder may also experience panic attacks. So what is a panic attack? A panic attack is the physical manifestation of stress and anxiety. It is the body going into full fight-or-flight -mode. Individuals will often refer to panic attacks as feeling like they are “going crazy” or having a “mental breakdown”.  It is not uncommon for individuals to mistake a panic attack as a heart attack and may find themselves in an ER. If you are not sure if you are experiencing a heart attack or a panic attack, received medical attention immediately. While a panic attack poses no physical immediate danger, a heart attack does.




Common symptoms of a panic attack are:

-Heart beating fast


-Feeling like passing out

-Overwhelming terror or dread

-Trouble catching breath

-Feeling helpless

-Chest pains


Panic attacks may be triggered by an anxiety-provoking event or they may occur at random with no known trigger. Panic attacks are more common during major life transitions or during major life stressors. Individuals who have experienced a panic attack are at greater risk of having one in the future. Because panic attacks seem to occur at random individuals may also develop anxiety about a panic attack occurring and may not want to go out for fear of having a panic attack in public.


Fist signs of anxiety or panic attacks often occur starting in late teens or early adulthood. Women are twice as likely to develop signs or symptoms over males.


Research shows that both counseling and medication are effective in helping manage panic attacks. If are interested in learning more about managing panic attacks through the use of psychotherapy in Charlotte, NC, Clear Vista Counseling specializes in helping clients manage anxiety and decrease panic attacks.