50 Symptoms of Panic Attack Disorder

50 Symptoms of Panic Attack Disorder

“Where can I hide, NOW!?”

That is the feeling that overcomes the victims of a panic attack: a sudden overwhelming feeling of anxiety and fear without any apparent stimulus. The victim might be in a relaxed state at the time or even asleep. There is typically a desire to retreat into a fetal position. An adult may not take that step because “You can control what you do, but not what you want to do.”

 Victims of reoccurring panic attacks often say that they feel like they are dying or losing their minds. They may become very reclusive to avoid contact with others and for fear of another person observing him or her dealing with an attack. Due to these unwarranted fears of feeling totally out of control, a situation that can overcome often continues much longer than necessary.

Panic attacks often peak in only 10 minutes and ease in 20 to 30 minutes, but the time passes slowly. A panic attack can occur any place. However, although over 100 symptoms are common to panic attacks, they are manageable.1,2,3,4

Typical Symptoms May Include:

  • The room appears to be spinning (like true vertigo)
  • Dizziness, fainting feeling or light-headedness
  • Nausea or a strong urge to vomit
  • Any numbness or tingling
  • Unable to breathe normally or hyperventilation
  • Feeling as though your airway is blocked
  • Heart beating/racing, “Like it is going to jump out of my chest!”
  • A fear of dying, being out of control or going insane
  • A weak feeling of being deeply shaken
  • Feeling like your are choking
  • Need to hide from work, friends, public places, and responsibilities
  • A feeling of being trapped without an escape route
  • Hot or cold flashes
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Sweating, clammy or chilled feelings
  • Aching in the joints or muscles
  • Feeling like you are unable to relax
  • An excess of nervous energy: “Can’t sit still.”
  • Food cravings and/or uncontrollable nibbling/eating
  • Digestive disturbances
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Twitching, jumping, spasm or other muscle changes
  • Fatigue, weakness or lethargy
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Paranoia
  • Shooting pains anywhere in your body
  • Headaches or head pressure
  • Unfounded fears based on thoughts not logical activities
  • Shooting pains anywhere in your body
  • Hearing or seeing things that are not really there
  • Depression or dramatic mood changes
  • Overly sensitive hearing, feeling, seeing, tasting or touching
  • Confusion
  • Emotionally flat, blunt, bully, or other obvious changes
  • Manic behavior
  • Change in appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Dramatic change in eating or elimination habits
  • Speech changes
  • Sleep disturbances: can’t fall asleep, stay asleep, nightmares
  • Fear of being alone or desire to only be alone
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Burning sensations on any part of the body
  • Spots in the vision pattern, blurry, distorted or foggy
  • Eyes feel itchy, watery, swollen or sensitive to light/sunlight
  • Jolting awake without any reason
  • Hearing sounds or voices in your own head
  • Tongue seems to not work, feels odd and speech is affected
  • Teeth grinding or clenched
  • Feeling detached from day-to-day activities

Plus many, many more1,2,3,4


  1. Helbig-Lang, S., Lang, T., Petermann, F., and Hoyer, J., 2012. Anticipatory Anxiety as a Function of Panic Attacks and Panic-Related Self-Efficacy: An Ambulatory Assessment Study in Panic Disorder. Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapy. Oct2012, Vol. 40 Issue 5, p590-604. 15p.
  2. Meuret, A. E.; Rosenfield, D; Wilhelm, F. H.; Zhou, E.; Conrad, A.; Ritz, T. & Roth, W. T. 2011. Do Unexpected Panic Attacks Occur Spontaneously? Biological Psychiatry. Nov2011, Vol. 70 Issue 10, p985-991. 7p.
  3. Eric m. Reiman, Marcus e. Raichle, f. Kevin Butler, Peter Herscovitch, & Eli Robins, 1984. A focal brain abnormality in panic disorder, a severe form of anxiety. Nature 310, 683 – 685 (23 August 1984); doi:10.1038/310683a0.
  4. David H. Barlow, PhD; Jack M. Gorman, MD; M. Katherine Shear, MD; Scott W. Woods, MD, 2000. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Imipramine, or Their Combination for Panic Disorder. JAMA. 2000;283(19):2529-2536. doi:10.1001/jama.283.19.2529.

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