What is a panic attack? While we all experience panic from time to time, if you have experienced extreme periods of anxiety or panic you may have experienced a panic attack. It is important to keep in mind that anyone can have a panic attack. You do not need to an anxiety or panic disorder to have a panic attack.

During a panic attack your body experiences a surge of nervous signals that is quite extreme. This is a natural, biological response which is meant to warn you of impending danger. When your brain receives this warning message, a specific part of the central nervous system becomes activated. It is this organ that maintains control of the anxious response that is experienced during a panic attack. While it is quite natural to have this experience when danger really is present, the problem is that this part of the central nervous system can become activated even when there really is no serious danger present. A panic attack is the result.

When the brain receives the warning signal, your body will begin to release adrenalin. The release of this hormone signals many of the classic symptoms associated with a panic attack. These symptoms include:

• Heart racing or palpitations
• Nausea
• Sweating
• Breathing problems
• Shaking
• Chest pain
• Feeling as if you are choking
• Cramping
• Dizziness
• Tingling
• Hot flashes or chills

If you were in real danger, the adrenalin that is released would be used up in either running or fighting; depending on the situation. Because there is no real danger; however, the adrenalin is not used up.

Panic attacks are actually quite common and many people frequently pose the question, “what is a panic attack?” In many cases panic attacks may appear without any warning whatsoever. The frequency of panic attacks can vary. It is possible that you may only experience a panic attack once in your lifetime or they may occur more regularly. A panic attack may last for only a few minutes or it may last for hours. In some cases, you may be able to recognize the trigger for a panic attack quite readily; however, in other cases it may not be so apparent.

Learning to overcome panic attacks is important due to the fact that when they are not treated panic attacks and disorders can lead to more serious conditions. In some cases, an individual may become so afraid of having a panic attack that they refuse to even leave home. At its worst, this can lead to agoraphobia.

The important thing to understand about panic attacks is that they can be treated. It is quite possible to reset the anxious response without using any medication. It does take time and dedication. If you have found yourself asking ”what is a panic attack?” and wondering if you have suffered from one, it is important to know that treatment is available.

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