I had my first panic attack while my husband and I were driving home from a St. Louis Rams football game. We were about 30 miles from our home when I began to feel a bit “off”. I was having trouble breathing, my body felt disconnected, and my heart was beating at what seemed like 90 miles an hour.
I pulled the van off to the side of the highway and got out hoping to “walk it off”. But it didn’t work. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t catch my breath. I felt like I was dying. I remember saying over and over again, “Please not now. I’m not ready.” It was horrifying.
The good news is that I wasn’t dying – obviously! But that night began a terrible journey for me into how my body reacted to excessive stress and anxiety. Since then, I have had many panic attacks, but I also learned how to recognize that one might be coming on and how to control it. I’m not always able to get hold of it completely and will occasionally fall into full-blown panic mode, but it’s a lot better than it was.
So, let’s look at the signs that you might be having a panic attack. The following list gives tell-tale warning signs of an oncoming panic attack.
A pounding heart, or an accelerated heart rate
Trembling or shaking
Shortness of breath
A choking sensation
Chest pain or discomfort
Nausea or stomach cramps