How long does a panic attack last? In the moment, many sufferers may be convinced that an attack will never end. A panic attack is a medical condition when the brain triggers the body into a fight or flight mode-sending signals that the body interprets to mean there is danger, either real or imagined. While it may feel like a panic attack is lasting for hours when someone is in the middle of one, there are certain methods for controlling the severity and duration.
Symptoms of a Panic Attack
A panic attack causes the heart to pound and the chest to tighten. Other symptoms include dizziness, nausea, difficulty swallowing, headaches and chills or sweats. Whether the symptoms appear occasionally or seem to recur frequently, it's important to schedule a visit with the doctor to rule out other more serious medical conditions, as many of the symptoms are similar to life-threatening conditions.
For some people, anxiety panic attacks last for a few minutes. They experience the symptoms rapidly and the condition is over fairly soon. However, the majority of sufferers experience panic attacks that last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. The symptoms come on rapidly and linger for the duration, while gradually subsiding. More rare cases of panic attack or panic disorder last for several hours. Those who suffer through anxiety panic attacks often report the feeling of time standing still and that the symptoms seem to last for hours, even if it is a relatively short panic attack.
Methods to Shorten Panic Attacks
There are several coping mechanisms that sufferers can learn that help reduce the severity and duration of panic attacks. One of the most effective ways to reduce the duration of panic attacks is controlled breathing paired with positive mental imaging. The controlled breathing allows the sufferer to regain control of some bodily functions and reduces the likelihood of dizziness and chest constriction. The positive thought assessment is usually discussed during therapy sessions and allows the sufferer to reason through any triggers of the attack and maintain anxiety during manifestation.
It is easy to confuse the symptoms of panic disorder with other physical conditions. Learn how to spot the signs of a panic attack.