Panic Attack: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

Panic attack symptoms come on suddenly and are unexpected. The symptoms can be severe and disabling, and those who experience panic attacks may lead to the development of irrational fears (phobias) of certain situations. Panic attack symptoms can be varied and may cause the sufferer to feel that death or a catastrophic event is imminent (a sense of impending doom).

Racing heart (palpitations), chest pains, dizziness, difficulty breathing, trembling, stomach upset, hot flashes, chills, terror, altered perceptions, and nervousness are symptoms that are often reported. The symptoms of panic attack may mimic those of a physical illness, such as heart attack. The length of a panic attack can vary, but most attacks tend to last longer than 10 minutes.

Causes of panic attacks

The exact cause of panic attacks is unknown. One way to think about panic attacks is that they seem to occur when the body's inner "alarm system" is triggered even when no danger is present. Panic attacks are thought to arise from a combination of biological or inherited factors, ways of thinking, and environmental factors, including social difficulties or stress.

Related Symptoms & Signs

Other panic attack symptoms and signs

Next Article


Panic attacks are repeated attacks of fear that can last for several minutes. See Answer

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Depression Newsletter

By clicking "Submit," I agree to the MedicineNet Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy. I also agree to receive emails from MedicineNet and I understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet subscriptions at any time.

Memon, Mohammed A. "Panic Disorder." Nov. 9, 2016. <>.