Is It a Panic Attack?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW


As of the last two months, i have been having what I’d like to believe are panic attacks, but I’m not really certain on that. Mainly because when they do occur there is no irrational fear of impending doom. My heart beat gets very rapid, my breathing gets ragged and I have sever chest pain until the “attack” ends. These “attacks” generally last anywhere between 10-25 minutes. Sometimes I get dizzy, and one of the times my entire left arm went numb for the duration of the attack. I’ve noticed that they only occur at moments in time when I’m really not focusing on anything around me, almost “zoning out”, and specifically at night.

A. Given your symptoms, it is possible that you are experiencing panic attacks. That is a realistic possibility but you need to be evaluated by a mental health professional to know with certainty.

I would also recommend having a medical evaluation as soon as possible. A medical examination is important to rule out a physical cause of your symptoms. Do this sooner rather than later. Panic attack symptoms sometimes mimic the symptoms of a heart attack.

If you are having panic attacks, consider seeking treatment. Panic disorder is highly treatable. There are many effective treatments for panic disorder that include psychotropic medications, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy or hypnosis. It is important to consider treatment. Left untreated, panic attacks generally become worse over time. They can significantly restrict your ability to live a normal life. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 May 2012

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2012). Is It a Panic Attack?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/05/11/is-it-a-panic-attack/

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