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Why does my panic attack feel like it will never stop?

ANSWER

Most panic attacks last less than 30 minutes. The "fight or flight" response that happens during a panic attack is meant to burn itself out. Episodes that last as long as an hour aren’t common. If they happen, it’s likely one of three things:

No matter the reason, the overall effect feels like you're being hit with one never-ending attack.

  • Waves of panic attacks, with recovery periods in between that you may not notice
  • Aftereffects of a single panic attack
  • Another health condition

SOURCES:

HelpGuide.org: "Panic Attack and Panic Disorder."

American Psychological Association: "Answers to Your Questions about Panic Disorder."

This Way Up: "Panicked."

Paul Nestadt, MD, supervising psychiatrist, Johns Hopkins Hospital Anxiety Disorders Clinic, Johns Hopkins Medical Institution.

University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine: "Panic Disorder."

Anxiety and Depression Society of America: "Generalized Anxiety Disorder."

American Cancer Society: "Anxiety, Fear, and Depression."

FamilyDoctor.org: "Panic Disorder."

Anxiety and Depression Association of America: "Am I having a panic attack or a heart attack?"

Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari on June 12, 2017

SOURCES:

HelpGuide.org: "Panic Attack and Panic Disorder."

American Psychological Association: "Answers to Your Questions about Panic Disorder."

This Way Up: "Panicked."

Paul Nestadt, MD, supervising psychiatrist, Johns Hopkins Hospital Anxiety Disorders Clinic, Johns Hopkins Medical Institution.

University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine: "Panic Disorder."

Anxiety and Depression Society of America: "Generalized Anxiety Disorder."

American Cancer Society: "Anxiety, Fear, and Depression."

FamilyDoctor.org: "Panic Disorder."

Anxiety and Depression Association of America: "Am I having a panic attack or a heart attack?"

Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari on June 12, 2017

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Why would a panic attack keep going?

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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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