When Panic Attacks Take Control

What are Panic Attacks?

Panic attacks are moments when a person suffers from extreme anxiety and discomfort. In addition, the sufferer must also experience at least 4 of the 13 panic attack symptoms. A panic attack is an uncomfortable, frightful experience that usually leaves its victims deeply distraught.

The sudden presence of a panic attack most often occurs without any obvious reason, although genetics may play a role in its onset. In some cases, triggers (various events, objects or places a person fears) may also bring about panic attacks. Often times, a trigger is a place where a panic attack has occurred before.

People with panic attacks constantly worry about another attack, adjusting their lives accordingly. Women are at a higher risk of having panic attacks than men. Attacks typically last no longer than 30 minutes, most often peaking at 10.

13 Symptoms of a Panic Attack

There are 13 symptoms associated with having a panic attack. These include:

  1. Palpitations, a racing, pounding heart beat
  2. Profuse sweating
  3. Shakiness
  4. Feeling smothered, short of breath
  5. Choking, feeling a lump in the throat
  6. Chest pain and irritation
  7. Nausea, sickness
  8. Dizziness, feeling faint
  9. Depersonalization (feelings of detachment from one’s self) or derealization (feeling that things around one’s self may not be real)
  10. Feelings of insanity
  11. Fear of death
  12. Feeling numbness or tingling in the body
  13. Chills, hot flashes

Each panic attack is only considered valid (except for limited symptom attacks) if the individual abruptly experiences 4 or more or the 13 panic attack symptoms, and if these symptoms peak within 10 minutes.

Types of Panic Attacks

There are 3 popular types of panic attacks. These include:

Un-cued or Spontaneous Panic Attacks

These types of panic attacks occur spontaneously when a trigger is not present, even occurring during naps or periods of relaxation. This panic attack is associated with panic disorder.

Cued or Situational Panic Attacks

These panic attacks occur when someone is either near to or anticipating an object or situation they fear. They fear this situation or object because an attack has previously occurred there. Post traumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder are disorders associated with this type of panic attack. For those with post traumatic stress disorder, there are numerous PTSD treatment centers that, in addition to PTSD, will address panic attacks as well.

Situational Predisposed Panic Attacks

Panic attacks like these may or may not occur when a person is exposed to a feared object or situation (trigger). People with panic disorder have this type of panic attack.

Additional types of panic attacks include:

Nocturnal Panic Attacks

Panic attacks such as these occur approximately 1 – 3 hours after a person has fallen asleep. They tend to be more severe than daytime panic attacks, and last from 2 – 8 minutes. In some cases, these attacks occur when a daytime attack did not.

Limited Symptom Attacks

These types of panic attacks are one’s in which a person experiences less that 4 of the 13 panic attack symptoms. At times, these attacks can be less intense then the symptoms of other panic attacks.


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.