Panic attacks can occur at any time and for no apparent reason and affects both men and women. However, despite their apparent “out-of-the-blue occurrence”, researchers concur that panic attacks are generally preceded by certain physiological changes. It is notable that these significant psychological changes, or instabilities, were not present during other times when the patient was not about to have a panic attack. In fact, these changes don’t even seem to enter patient’s awareness.
Panic attacks can occur while carrying out daily activities, such as while driving in your car, at the dinner table at home, while shopping with friends, or during your morning workout.
During a panic attack, sufferers report they suddenly experience an occurrence marked by intense fear that something frightful, yet, unstoppable is about to occur. This overwhelming sensation is generally accompanied by various symptoms, including shortness of breath, racing heart rate, chest pain, dizziness, faintness, tightness, nausea, difficulty swallowing, and more. During this time sufferers may also experience an intense fear of losing control, going insane, dying, or having a heart attack or choking to death.
According to studies, panic attack signs can occur within an hour prior to an attack and last until 10 minutes into of after the start of the individual attack. Some warning signs of a panic attack typically include:
Chronic hyperventilation could be an early warning sign of a panic attack. In fact, studies show that prior to the onset of a panic attack, patients were breathing audibly and rapidly but were unaware they were doing so.
Sufferers may also break into a seemingly uncontrollable sweat, prior to an attack. It may feel like nothing they do can stop the sweating or the episodes of sweating from occurring. Your sweating can affect just one part of your body, many parts of your body, your whole body, randomly shift throughout your body, or a combination.
Trembling, or shaking, is one of the most obvious signs of nervousness and can occur before, during, and after a panic attack. Trembling is one of most uncomfortable signs of anxiety because it is hard to control. In fact, there are confident public speakers who are used to being in front of an audience whose hands will shake intently because it is a part of anxiety that is hard to control.
Hot and Cold Flashes
Prior to a panic attack, sufferers may also suffer hot and cold flashes, or brief moments of feeling unusually cold or hot. During this time, some may experience just cold sweats, while others may experience just hot sweats, or some may experience both.
Researchers conclude that the fact that patients report their attack as completely unsuspected shows they do not feel preceding instability markers and physiological changes, which can be discouraging because they cannot control their symptoms if they have no perception of them. However, researchers further conclude that future treatments may allow healthcare professionals to train patients to recognize the early warning signs of their attack, similar to how epileptic sufferers recognize early signs of an oncoming attack.