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Our Health Library information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please be advised that this information is made available to assist our patients to learn more about their health. Our providers may not see and/or treat all topics found herein.

Panic attack

A panic attack is a sudden feeling of extreme anxiety. Symptoms include feelings of dying or losing control of oneself, rapid breathing (hyperventilation), and a racing heart.

A person having a panic attack may feel dizzy, sweaty, or shaky. Other symptoms include trouble breathing, chest pain or tightness, and an irregular heartbeat.

A panic attack can be triggered by a stressful event, or it can occur unexpectedly. An attack starts suddenly and usually lasts from 5 to 20 minutes but may last even longer, up to a few hours. You have the most anxiety about 10 minutes after the attack starts. Panic attacks can be successfully treated with counseling and medicine.

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