Anxiety Attack Symptoms
Symptoms of an anxiety attack:
Anxiety attacks can feel awful, intense, and frightening. Because they can be powerful experiences, it can seem like we are helpless to control them.
What do anxiety panic attack symptoms feel like?
Symptoms of anxiety attacks include:
- A feeling of overwhelming fear
- Feeling of going crazy or losing control
- Feeling you are in grave danger
- Feeling you might pass out
- A surge of doom and gloom
- An urgency to escape
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pressure or pain
- Turning pale
- Feeling detached from reality
- Weak in the knees
- Burning skin
- Pins and needles
- Hot and cold flushes
- Numbness and tingling sensations
The above anxiety attack symptoms can be accompanied by:
- Choking sensation, tightening throat, it feels like your throat is closing, it feels like something is stuck in your throat
- Depersonalization (feeling detached from reality, separate from one-self, separate from normal emotions)
- Derealization (feeling unreal, in a dream-like state)
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, unsteadiness
- Emotional distress
- Emotional upset
- Inability to calm yourself down
- Knot in the stomach, tight stomach
- Panicky feeling
- Pounding, racing heart
- Butterflies in the stomach
- Sudden urge to go to the bathroom (urinate, defecate)
- Feel like crying
This list is not exhaustive. As you can see, there are many physical, psychological, and emotional signs and symptoms of anxiety attacks. For a more comprehensive list of anxiety symptoms and descriptions of what they feel like, visit our anxiety symptoms section.
There is a long list of signs and symptoms of an anxiety attack. But because each body is somewhat chemically unique, anxiety affects each person differently. Consequently, anxiety attack symptoms can vary from person to person in type or kind, number, intensity, duration, and frequency. If your symptoms don’t exactly match this list, that doesn’t mean you don’t have anxiety attacks. It simply means that your body is responding to them slightly differently.
For example, one person may experience only a few minor signs and symptoms of an anxiety attack, while another person may experience all of them and to great severity. All combinations and variations are common.
Because there are many medical conditions that can cause anxiety-like symptoms, such as the strong sensations and feelings associated with anxiety attacks, it’s wise to discuss them with your doctor. If your doctor has attributed your attacks to stress and anxiety, you can feel confident that your doctor’s diagnosis is correct. Anxiety attacks are relatively easy to diagnose and aren’t easily confused with other medical conditions.
NOTE: The Symptoms Listing section in the Recovery Support area of our website contains detailed information about most of the symptoms commonly associated with anxiety and panic. This information includes the sensations commonly experienced, whether it is an anxiety symptom or not, what causes them to occur, and what you can do to reduce and eventually eliminate them. Much of this information isn’t found elsewhere.
How long can anxiety attack symptoms last?
Anxiety attacks and their symptoms can last from a few moments to many hours. The length of attack is generally determined by how frightened a person is and how they react to what it is they are afraid of and/or their anxiety attack. The greater the reaction, the longer the attack.
Are anxiety attack symptoms serious?
No. Even though the symptoms of an anxiety attack can seem powerful and even out of control, they aren’t harmful. Anxiety attacks and panic attacks are the same.
Anxiety attack symptoms in men
While it may seem like men and women experience different anxiety attack symptoms, they don’t. Since each person is somewhat chemically unique, signs and symptoms of an anxiety attack can vary from person to person, and even from men to women.
Anxiety attack symptoms in teenagers
People of all ages can experience anxiety and panic attacks, including children, teenagers, and the elderly.
Anxiety attack symptoms vs heart attack
Anxiety attacks symptoms and heart attack symptoms can seem similar because their signs and symptoms can be similar. But most medical professionals can quickly tell the difference as heart attacks have distinct symptoms that aren’t anxiety-like. If you are unsure of which is an anxiety attack symptom and which is a heart attack symptom, seek immediate medical advice. If the doctor diagnoses your symptoms as anxiety attack symptoms, you can feel confident the doctor’s diagnosis is correct. Therefore, there is no need to worry about a heart attack.
Can you have anxiety attacks symptoms at night?
Yes, anxiety attacks can occur anytime, even at night.
For more information about anxiety attacks, such as what they are, what causes them, and what you can do to eliminate them, visit our anxiety attacks page.
Yes, anxiety attacks and their signs and symptoms can feel awful, intense, and threatening. But they aren’t harmful. They pass when the anxiety attack subsides. Getting the right information, help, and support is the best way to overcome anxiety attacks and their signs and symptoms. We provide more detailed information in the Recovery Support area of our website.
If you would like personal assistance with your anxiety disorder recovery, you can find more information about our anxiety personal coaching/therapy option here.
Authors: Jim Folk, Marilyn Folk, BScN. Last updated April 2015.