The mental and physical symptoms of panic attacks can be terrifying, but the good news is that they don’t mean you’re in actual medical danger unless you are in medical danger – who can really know? Here are four symptoms that often accompany panic attacks, but could also be a sign of something much, much worse:
Elevated heart rate
This is a very common panic attack symptom. If you feel like your heart is absolutely pounding, then rest assured, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a bad breakthrough case of covid, or atrial fibrillation, or are currently dying from a heart attack. Of course, it could be any of those things. After all, an elevated heart rate is a sign of those conditions as well, and we’re not doctors; we’re not in the room with you. Anyway, try to take deep breaths? We don’t know.
Shortness of breath
So taking deep breaths might be the answer to your problems, but it also might be impossible because shortness of breath is another panic attack symptom. Panic attacks can cause hyperventilation due to the fight-or-flight response they trigger. But, not being able to breathe can also mean that you’re dying. Again, we’re not doctors, it’s just pretty obvious (breath = life). You could go to the emergency room but that would be a whole thing and then you’d probably feel fine by the time they saw you. Guess life is just a series of gambles. You feeling any better? No? Huh, that’s not good.
Pain in your left arm is an iconic heart attack symptom, but guess what? It’s also a panic attack symptom. Panic attacks can make your muscles seize up, causing pain, numbness, or tingling in your arms. There’s virtually no symptom a panic attack and a heart attack don’t share. Isn’t that fucked? Anyway, try doing some jumping jacks and then see if you’re still alive.
A pigeon on your neighbor’s patio railing is staring at you
Yes, this is a panic attack symptom. Extreme anxiety can cause fear and derealization, leading you to read sinister presences into your surroundings. Probably that pigeon isn’t staring at you intentionally, but keep in mind, maybe it is. This could be a dark omen of any number of tragedies. Maybe this is the pigeon that warns you are experiencing a heart attack. Hard to say!
So if you experience any or all of these panic attack symptoms, don’t freak out. Actually, if you’re having a panic attack, you probably are freaking out. If anything, if you’re somewhat calm, that probably means this isn’t a panic attack at all, but more likely a life-threatening medical emergency. This does not constitute medical advice – cheers!