What is a Panic Attack?

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 April, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 April, 2003, 12:00am

According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, a Panic Attack is defined as the abrupt onset of an episode of intense fear or discomfort, which peaks in approximately 10 minutes, and includes at least four of the following symptoms:

'a feeling of imminent danger or doom

'the need to escape




'shortness of breath or a smothering


'a feeling of choking

'chest pain or discomfort

'nausea or abdominal discomfort

'dizziness or lightheadedness

'a sense of things being unreal,


'a fear of losing control or going crazy

'a fear of dying

'tingling sensations

'chills or hot flushes

NB: The age of onset of Panic Disorder varies from late adolescence to mid-thirties. Relatively few suffer from the disorder in childhood.

Here are some tips from the ADAA in case you suffer a panic attack:

'Take a deep breath

'See, touch, and feel the objects that are around you

'Tell yourself the feelings are not harmful

'Tell yourself the feelings will pass

'Visualise a peaceful scene

'Let your mind go blank

'Passively accept your symptoms


'Sing or hum a tune

'Read a book

'Talk to a friend

'Pet your dog or cat

'Take a walk

'Take a warm bath

'Splash cold water on your face

'Clean the house or wash the car