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Panic attacks may occur alone of as part of a panic or anxiety disorder. In a panic attack, one experiences terror, fear, and a sense of loss of control. The symptoms may last for only a few seconds or for several minutes. Many people who have had panic attacks report a racing heartbeat, dizziness, shortness of breath, and a fear of impending death during the attacks. Panic attacks can follow upsetting or stressful situations, and stress does seem to be related to panic attacks in many people.
Medically reviewed by Robert Bargar, MD; Board Certification in Public Health & General Preventive Medicine
"Panic disorder in adults: Epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, course, assessment, and diagnosis"