What It Really Means When You Have A Panic Attack

As the holidays draw near, many people's mental health may start to get frayed. When things begin getting more hectic, it's easy to fall victim to intense anxiety. This type of anxiety, when gone unchecked, can spiral into issues with panic attacks — experiences of mental and physical tension.

Panic attacks are characterized by feelings of intense nervousness or fear that comes on relatively quickly, according to Verywell Mind. They can be induced by various mental disorders, as well as stressful situations, the outlet notes. Perhaps one of their main characteristics is that they're often "disproportionate" to the stress-inducing event that set them off in the first place. These episodes can also include physical symptoms, including shaking, sweating, and chest pain, Verywell Mind notes. 

Furthermore, this discomfort can manifest as nausea, numbness, fear of dying, and shortness of breath, MentalHelp.net explains. The mind's fear can take hold in the body and cause intense distress. A common symptom of anxiety disorders, panic attacks may also last for a significant period of time in which the person affected feels lost, out of control, or hopeless. As such, according to the outlet, the episode must have a number of physical and mental characteristics to qualify as a panic attack.

There are different types of panic attacks

Anyone who has suffered from more than one panic attack will attest to the different feelings that they can bring on. The main difference revolves around whether or not the attack was cued or uncued.

An expected or cued panic attack comes when you've been "exposed" to a trigger that has been upsetting in the past. These attacks happen almost instantly after being exposed and come on relatively quickly, MentalHelp.net explains. As for uncued, these types seem to come out of nowhere; stress is usually the main culprit for these experiences, the outlet notes. For example, someone could have gotten upsetting news about their relationship the previous week and have a panic attack while they're walking their dog. Unresolved stress can cause this physical reaction.

Panic attacks may alert you to a source of stress that has gone unchecked for an extended period of time. If you suffer from anxiety or have experienced an emotionally taxing event, make sure to implement self-care and mental health protocols to ensure that you're fully supporting your system. It may also be helpful to get anxiety screenings and find various outlets to depend on when you're feeling even slightly overwhelmed.