A panic attack is a sudden, often seemingly “out of nowhere” experience of intense fear accompanied by severe physical symptoms. An individual having a panic attack may experience a racing heart, shaking, dizziness or fainting, chills, sweating, difficulty breathing, headache, nausea or stomach pain, chest pain, numbness, or dissociation. They may believe they are having a heart attack, losing their mind, or dying. The worst symptoms of a panic attack typically last only a few minutes, but an individual may experience residual anxiety and exhaustion for several hours afterward.

Most people experience a panic attack at some point in their lives and but do not go on to experience panic as a chronic problem. Unfortunately, worrying about having a panic attack is often what causes a panic attack to occur, and for some people, this creates a cycle of recurrent panic symptoms. An individual experiencing recurrent panic attacks may be experiencing panic disorder. Panic disorder can cause an individual to avoid their daily activities, significantly disrupting their quality of life. Fortunately, panic is highly treatable.

Panic-oriented services at BCSC: