You’re sweating profusely, you can’t stop shaking, your heart is pounding and you feel an impending sense of doom—you might be experiencing a panic attack
“Panic attacks can happen anywhere and its signs and symptoms develop extremely fast. They come on like a sneeze,” says Dr. Sheila Woody, professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia.
Other signs that you're suffering from a panic attack may include nausea or upset stomach, feeling dizzy or faint, numbing or tingling sensations, hot or cold flashes, intense fear, shortness of breath, a feeling of imminent doom or terrifying thoughts.
“From beginning to end, a panic attack will only last about 10 minutes,” says Woody. Although doctors are still unclear as to what causes panic attacks, they have found that they are often connected with phobias, alcohol or drug abuse, depression and suicidal thoughts.
Although a panic attack isn’t very pleasant, it’s typically not dangerous. “If you’re starting to feel anxious, the best thing to do is breathe deeply as it will calm you,” says Dr. Woody.
On a positive note, panic attacks are the most treatable anxiety disorder doctors deal with. “There are many great cognitive coping mechanisms that can really help,” she adds.