Anxiety, Panic Attacks and Panic Disorder – What are panic attacks or anxiety attacks – Part 2/6

Sherry-Lee Smith

Registered Psychologist

Perth, Western Australia

What are panic attacks or anxiety attacks?

When an abrupt surge of intense anxiety happens, a person is said to have had a panic attack (also sometimes referred to as anxiety attacks). The anxiety reaches a peak within several minutes and can last for up to half an hour. During this state of intense apprehension 4 or more of the following physiological and psychological symptoms may occur;

  • Increase in heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Feelings of choking
  • Breathlessness
  • Pain or discomfort in the chest
  • Nausea
  • Hot or cold sensations in the body
  • Feeling light headed or dizzy
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Feeling like things aren’t real or detached from oneself
  • Fear of dying
  • Fear of losing control

A panic attack can start from a previously calm state or an anxious state. In any one year, around 11% of adults are thought to experience panic attacks. They can occur in the context of any mental health issue and are therefore quite common. They can be expected (triggered by an event, thought, situation etc.) or unexpected (where there is no obvious trigger).

If you are experiencing any difficulties with anxiety, panic attacks or other mental health issues and would like help please contact Sherry-Lee Smith on 042 135 1020 or smith.sherrylee@gmail.com

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Mt Lawley Counselling Centre

13 Alvan St

Mt Lawley, Perth Western Australia 6050


Sherry-Lee Smith

Registered Psychologist