How long does a panic attack last?

Psychiatrists call sudden episodes of anxiety “panic attacks”. Such attack usually starts quite unexpectedly and for no apparent reason. It’s worth to notice, that these attacks are fairly widespread and even “contagious.” In a few moments, they can cover a whole crowd of people. Very often they occur in women at the age of 25-35. Many people wonder how long does a panic attack last. Let’s get deeper into this subject.

During the panic attack the body produces a large amount of adrenaline. Suddenly it’s getting stiffer, difficulty in breathing may appear, at the same time the palpitation and dizziness occur. The ground literally crumbles under the feet and a person for a few moments loses a sense of equilibrium and reality. Strong fear of death occurs and a person may thinks that he is about to go crazy and lose a sense of control or even die. The good news is that panic attacks are more annoying than dangerous. The bad news is that they have a tendency to greatly complicate our lives. A person, who at least once has passed through the panic attack, experiences a constant fear that anxiety can happen again.

During a panic attack the rush of adrenaline occurs – the breathing rate and pulse increases, pupils dilate, muscles contract – up to the tremor (shaking hands or feet). The subjective experience of fear appears – you want to get away, escape or hide in a safe place.

According to the experts, panic attacks are considered to be a manifestation of disease, which has both psychological and physiological basis. In spite of the stress or conflict situations, which also can aggravate symptoms of panic disorder, its underlying cause still lies in the biological abnormalities of the central nervous system? By the way, this condition can be inherited.

So, how long does a panic attack last? Panic attacks usually last from few minutes to few hours and may occur several times per day or once every few weeks. Keep in mind that the panic attack is just an attack, and therefore can not last long. The peak of panic attack lasts for 10-15 minutes. Then the symptoms go away, but may eventually return. If the discomfort lasts for about an hour, it is pertinent to speak of generalized anxiety disorder.

Many patients complain of such spontaneous unprovoked attacks. But in the larger scheme of things, we can determine, that everything has its reason, and there must be a reason for every attack. For example, unpleasant atmosphere in the public transport, hum in a confined space, the feeling of helplessness within the heaps of people, etc, can all become a trigger for the panic attack development.

In some cases, attacks may disappear for quite a long time, and then, for no apparent reason, come back. The severity of attacks can vary significantly even for one person. Often, after the panic attack a person experiences relief and drowsiness.

Panic attacks can cause people a lot of problems and significantly “poison” their lives, but they are not dangerous in a sense that they can not kill a person. Over time, many people who experience the recurring panic attacks become extremely anxious, even between attacks. They may develop one or more phobias, and people begin to fear and avoid those places and situations, which somehow are associated with the panic attacks, for example, crowds of people, elevators or highways. In the end, they begin to fear of making plans for travelling or even go shopping. This can lead to the adverse consequences for the social and family life, as well as for work.