What are the Warning Signs, Symptoms, and Triggers of Panic Attacks?

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Published Date|
January 31, 2023

Panic Attacks: Warning Signs, Triggers, & Symptoms





Hi guys I’m Zainab from KMA Therapy and I'm with you today to talk about what are panic attacks. Now, before I begin to tell you what panic attacks are, how to recognize its symptoms, and when to reach out for help, I would definitely encourage you to take a look at my earlier video on anxiety.


You will find a link right above which will help you to take a quick peek into what is anxiety and actually help you understand this video on panic attacks way better.


What are Panic Attacks?


So let's get into what panic attacks are. Now, panic attacks are nothing but brief periods of overwhelming fear or anxiety and the intensity of panic attacks goes way beyond anxiety.


Now when a person is experiencing panic attacks they almost feel that they're having a heart attack, fear of dying, and not able to breathe. And these symptoms can feel very scary, but it does not cause you any physical harm.


Now with panic attacks, usually they are very brief but very intense. So it can last from anything between 10 minutes to 30 minutes, but the symptoms can linger for over an hour.


What are the Symptoms of a Panic Attack?


So, let's look into what these symptoms of panic attacks look like.


Symptoms of Panic Attacks:


  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Fear of dying and sense of going crazy
  • Muscle tension, nausea, chest pain and also sweating


Now, these are all symptoms of panic attacks.


What Causes Panic Attacks?


Panic attacks can occur unexpectedly, whether you are in a calm state or an anxious state. Therefore, it becomes really difficult to understand what the causal factor is.


There are some people who understand what the cause of their panic is but there are yet others who are not able to identify what is causing them to feel panic. Therefore, a lot of us get really preoccupied to manage those symptoms of panic.


Now, in managing those symptoms of panic we are not able to understand what the underlying issue is.


Now the underlying issue can be just tied down to stress or major transitions in your life – whether it is graduating from school, getting married and having a baby, or entering a workspace.


Or it could be severe stress – that could be handling a divorce, loss of a job, or even the death of a loved one.


The Cycle of Panic and Anxiety


Now imagine – if we are constantly just trying to manage the symptoms of panic, we are not getting to what the underlying issue actually is. Let's look at this diagram.


The Cycle of Panic and Anxiety in Panic Attacks

Now I have put down a few factors which tend to increase the cycle of anxiety and panic.


Now imagine if you are going through a trigger, which is where you're feeling your lungs are tightening.


Immediately at that point in time you have perceived a threat that is, “I won't be able to breathe.”


The minute you are telling this to yourself that, “I will not be able to breathe properly,” I am getting into that zone of panic.


The minute I reach here the bodily symptoms tend to increase further. That is not being able to breathe correctly, or dizziness, heart racing, sweating, cold sweats, and muscle tension.


The more the bodily symptoms increase the more you are catastrophizing the whole thing, so you are having a lot of unhelpful thinking styles. That gets into “I will suffocate to death.”


The more you are engaging in this thought process you now want to move out of the zone because it is very scary to be in this entire cycle.


So what do you do at that point in time? You choose the behaviour that is avoidance.


Let's say exercising – if you find your heart racing rapidly when you are exercising, you make sure you don't exercise. Now when you stop exercising you are managing the symptom but you are not really managing the misinterpretation of the trigger that you have just gone through.


Help For Panic Attacks


Now it becomes very, very important for us to break these cycles.


If you find yourself in any of these cycles or even if you find yourself experiencing a lot of bodily symptoms and trying to just manage that, and are always fearful of having another panic attack, it would be time to reach out for help.


So here at KMA, we have therapists who help you not just recognize symptoms of panic but

will also help you manage that effectively.


We have five different locations that we operate from – Yonge and Eglinton, King West, Liberty Village, Yorkville, and Yonge and Sheppard. We also have online therapy.


So I hope you found this video on panic attacks helpful and I will see you all again next week with another mental health video. Take care, bye for now!


Next Steps for Help Managing Panic Attacks


After watching this video, you now know the signs, symptoms, and triggers of panic attacks.


If you need support with panic attacks, our team at KMA Therapy is here to support you. For over 14 years, we’ve helped our clients manage their anxiety in order to live their most fulfilling lives.


Book an appointment today or connect with our team to learn more about how to stop anxiety from holding you back.


If you’re not yet ready to book an appointment, check out these resources to learn more:


Author |
Emily Weatherhead
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