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Anxiety Attack Symptoms and Causes

Abstract: Symptoms of panic attacks can be sweat, chills, flush, tremor, nausea ants, tingles, dizziness, fear, etc.

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Anxiety Attack Symptoms and Causes

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Written by: , lecturer of Psychiatry in the University of Ioannina Medical School, Greece. Eva Gerasi, postgraduate student in the Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital of Ioannina, Greece. , professor, Stockholm University.
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 23 Oct 2009.

I often feel stressed, together with chest pain and sweat. Do I have panic attacks? Describe anxiety attack symptoms and panic attack symptoms. What are the physical symptoms of anxiety and stress?


Symptoms with panic attacks

Panic attacks and anxiety attacks are characterized by acute development of several of the following anxiety attack symptoms reaching peak severity within 10 minutes:

  • Escalating subjective tension
  • Chest pain or discomfort, palpitations, "pounding heart", tachycardia
  • Sweating, chills, or hot flushes
  • Tremor or "shakes"
  • Feeling of choking, smothering or shortness of breath
  • Nausea, "butterflies", or abdominal distress
  • Dizziness, feeling light headed or faint
  • Derealisation, depersonalisation
  • Paraesthesias (feelings like an ant crawling on your body)
  • Feeling of dying, loss of control or "going crazy"

Note: Many of the similar symptoms can be caused by a heart attack. Panic attack and heart attacks can be difficult to distinguish.

Causes of panic attacks

Panic attacks are caused by parts of the brains which were developed very early, even in the reptiles which humans have been developed from. These reactions were critical to an animal's survival. Brain image experiments show that we react very different when encountering close and distant threats.

Threats at a close distance (5 ft) caused the panic attack symptoms described above, while threats at a larger distance (50 ft) caused more general anxiety feelings.

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