Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors
"How do you know if you have a panic attack?"
I keep hearing people talk about panic attacks and I am starting to wonder if I have them or I have had one. I mean sometimes I get freaked out and my mind kind of feels like it is racing. Is that a panic attack? What do I do if I think I am having them?
Panic attacks are usually quite recognizable. They involve specific episodes in which a person becomes overcome by an intense sensation of anxiety or fear. There are usually many physical symptoms, which can include blurry vision, nausea, palpitations of the heart, dizziness, and sweating.
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In addition to panic attacks, an anxiety disorder can cause more generalized feelings of anxiety and 'racing thoughts', although these symptoms may overlap with other psychiatric problems, such as bipolar disorder, as well as with just general life events, such as fatigue or stress. If these symptoms have been persistent for a while for you and are not getting any better, then it would be a good idea for you to see a doctor about them. I would recommend that you start either with your primary care doctor or with a psychiatrist. They can specifically screen you for anxiety and panic disorders, as well as other psychiatric problems. If they diagnose you with one of these conditions, the good news is that there are often very effective treatments, which can include both therapy and counseling as well as several different medications. Start by making an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible, and I hope you are feeling better soon!
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