A surprising number of individuals report having panic attacks but not being able to identify them at the time. A panic attack can last anywhere from a few seconds to fifteen to twenty minutes, and may be difficult to pin down because of the state of heightened anxiety. Knowing whether or not you're having a panic attack is incredibly important for diagnosis and anxiety treatment. Here are a few of the major symptoms that can go unnoticed.
1. A Feeling of Impending Doom
One of the most remarkable symptoms of a panic attack is often a feeling of impending doom. You may be convinced that you are about to die, or that you have just stumbled into bad luck. You may believe that a decision that you just made is a fatal one, even if it's fairly trivial -- such as changing lanes. This feeling of impending doom is usually the onset of anxiety, which can spiral into other misgivings.
2. Increased Heart Rate and Body Temperature
An increased heart rate, feeling of flushed skin, and often being nauseated, will often precipitate an anxiety event and will last until completion. This is one of the easiest ways to get a physical diagnosis of a panic attack, if one occurs in the care of a medical professional. If you believe an anxiety attack may be coming, paying attention to your heart rate can help.
3. Claustrophobia or the Urge to "Flee"
Running outside or into another room is one of the first things many people do when they have a panic attack. Those who are driving may even pull to the side of the road so they can get out of their car. When experiencing high anxiety, most people tap into their survival instincts: fight, flee, or freeze. Fleeing tends to be the most popular response to a panic attack because it is an undefined threat.
4. Uncharacteristic Levels of Aggression or Impatience
Related to the above, some people tap into their "fight" instinct rather than their "flee" impulse. Unfortunately, because anxiety isn't tangible, this aggression will usually blow out sideways: anxiety sufferers may find themselves snapping at family members or yelling at co-workers. If you find that your behavior has become unusually explosive, anxiety may be the key.
Once you've identified recurring panic attacks, it's often necessary to seek treatment. Panic attacks can occur for a variety of reasons: hormonal imbalances, anxiety disorders, and environmental causes. Panic attacks can even be caused by a diet high in caffeine. A combination of medication and therapy is often used to reduce the occurrences of panic attacks and learn constructive ways to deal with them when they do occur.