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6 Signs of a Panic Attack (and How to Respond)

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For those who have never experienced a significant panic attack, there may be some skepticism about the condition, its causes, and its impact on the mental and physical well-being of the person affected. But a growing body of research shows that panic attacks are in fact very real, and pose a serious threat to the physical health of those afflicted.
The question is, how do you know if you’re having a panic attack? And beyond that, how can you tell what you’re experiencing is a panic attack and not another kind of medical condition, such as a stroke or heart attack. For those who regularly experience panic attacks, often as a result of a panic disorder, it’s crucial to learn the signs of an attack and develop thoughtful steps for overcoming the issue without event.

1. Difficulty breathing

One of the primary signs of a panic attack is difficulty breathing. This can have a lot to do with the activity of the heart during an attack, as the heart often races or experiences palpitations. If the breathing trouble continues for long enough, it can lead to significant chest pain and more intense panic attack.

If you know a panic attack is possible, try to slow your breathing in the event that one occurs. Rather than taking rapid and shallow breaths, stretch out your breaths and take long, measured breaths of air. At the same time, try to slow your mind to match your breathing — slow, deep, steady. This can help stop the breathing trouble and help you ease out of the panic attack.

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