Steve Tingley’s promotion came with a new duty he dreaded. When the 52-year-old was appointed director of media services for a Madison, Wis., insurance company, he was expected to make presentations to other divisions and outside groups.
“I’d break out in a sweat, get very nervous, stutter on the stage. I’d lose my concentration, and it all fell apart,” he says.
Most of us feel a little twinge at taking the podium, but for some, the anxiety is debilitating. Estimates suggest as many as 35% of Americans...
It is possible to have one
panic attack after another in waves for an extended period of time. This can
seem like one continuous attack. But if you have continuous symptoms that don't go away within an hour, you probably aren't having a panic attack. You
should seek medical care right away.
Symptoms of a panic attack may
Rapid breathing (hyperventilation), shortness of breath, or a feeling
of choking or being smothered.
A pounding or racing heart or an irregular
Shaking, trembling, or feeling lightheaded or dizzy.
Sweating, chills, or hot flashes.
Nausea or an upset stomach.
Numbness or tingling.
Fear that you are going to die, lose control, or "go
Feelings of being detached from yourself or from
The symptoms of a panic
attack can be similar to those of a heart attack. Many people seek emergency
medical treatment for a panic attack for this reason. If you have chest pain
symptoms of a heart attack, get medical
treatment right away. For more information, see the topic
Panic attacks may begin
without a trigger. Or they can be linked to certain situations, such as being in
large crowds of people in restaurants or stadiums. Sometimes just knowing that you'll be in a certain situation can cause severe anxiety.
who have panic attacks often learn to avoid situations that they fear
will trigger a panic attack or situations where they will not be able to escape
easily if a panic attack occurs. If this pattern of avoidance and anxiety is severe,
it can become
agoraphobia, an intense and irrational fear of being in public places.
Isolating yourself and avoiding social situations can interfere with your
ability to work. It can also harm your relationships, especially with your family members and
Symptoms in children
Panic attacks aren't common
in children or younger teens. But children who have panic disorder or panic
attacks often have other symptoms in addition to those listed above.
be overly afraid of common objects such as bugs.
They may worry too much about
monsters or about going to bed alone.
They may refuse to go to school or
become unusually upset when they are separated from a parent.