How dangerous are the physical symptoms of a panic attack-when I have one I feel like I could die?

84 Answers
Last Updated: 02/12/2018 at 11:27pm
How dangerous are the physical symptoms of a panic attack-when I have one I feel like I could die?
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Collin McShirley, LMFT

Marriage & Family Therapist

I love helping people overcome challenges with food, depression, and anxiety. My work with clients is nonjudgement, supportive, and kind.

Top Rated Answers
iona
September 26th, 2014 9:54pm
In my experience, I get the most horrid symptoms. Firstly, I get this sudden overwhelming fear that my chest will suddenly collapse, literally. Like it will suddenly self destruct. Then my breathing as a result messes up because I get paranoid my body is dying on me. And then I can feel my eyeballs in my eye sockets moving around trying to make sense of what I am doing. The walls feel like they are closing in on me and I have no way out. It's like my body is screaming but with no response. When they get super bad, I either am sick or pass out. It isn't the best thing in the world. And the worst thing is they can be triggered from practically nothing.
CMThornRose
November 11th, 2014 9:35pm
Not dangerous at all so try not to worry about that too. It is often described as feeling as though you are having a heart attack which I myself can relate to. You will feel short on breath, sharp chest pains, sometimes writhing in agony and have pins and needles due to the racing heart with shortness of breath but you will not die.
Randy1
December 11th, 2015 6:01pm
They are not dangerous at all, just uncomfortable. The only concern is that if you are driving you should pull over immediately, in case you pass out. But panic attacks are not life threatening.
niceninja412
November 11th, 2014 7:33pm
They can be dangerous and you should seek help if possible,given that the attack allows you to move.
KatieB
November 2nd, 2014 7:50am
A lot of people mistake panic attacks for physical illness - I once drove myself to hospital thinking that I was having a heart attack, when in fact it was a panic attack. The physical symptoms typically aren't dangerous (although they feel that way) - chest pain is most often stress, not anything dire. However, when you hyperventilate or your heart beats too hard you are at risk of fainting. Your body is incredibly aroused during a panic attack, so use abdominal breathing, deep muscle relaxation and keep hydrated during the course of the attack. Despite the relatively benign physical symptoms, panic attacks can be quite emotionally disabling. If you experience them, seek professional help, because if you work at the problem from its origin, you can stop the panic attacks for good. :)
Sh4una
December 24th, 2015 1:11pm
In my personal experiences with panic attacks I've realised that feeling like you're going to drop dead or the world is just going to swallow you up is a common thing, I've learnt that there is no real way to be told how to "stop this" you should try and find your own way and go with what you think is best, for example during a panic attack I will always try and play a game on my phone!
Anonymous
October 12th, 2014 12:11pm
Nowise, the physical symptoms of panic attack includes mainly hyperventilation (fast and deep breathing) and palpitation (fast and strong heartbeat) which causes hyperoxygenation of organism and you can feel tingling in limbs, fainting or you can have feeling like you are going out of your body or like having heart attack. But in fact, you are in control all the time, it's only fight or flight reaction which is normal part of organisms auto defense system. But in panic attack it is triggered in situations that didn't contain any risk or danger. Everything that happens is normal and natural reaction of organism, but in this situation you have scare from the triggered fight/flight reaction and it makes that symptoms worsen and that trigger another defense reaction and that scares you.... It's vicious circle. But in every case, it's not dangerous! It's only abnormal, and for your calm, it's normal to feel abnormal in abnormal situation. But one of the important things is to calm yourself and wait if the attack disappear, if not after about 2 hours or if it's worsening, it's strongly recommended go to the hospital and get an assessment. The reaction itself is very energy consuming, so whether the body wants or not it must after some time end it.
Anonymous
December 18th, 2015 2:49am
panic attack do not lead to death no matter how bad you are feeling from one. taking deep breaths and relaxing is key to helping a panic attack pass. always seek medical care if you are suffering from panic attacks as this may be a sign of an underlying mental health condition.
cakeinthebath
May 21st, 2015 10:38pm
Panic attacks are very stressful, but they cannot kill you. Think of your body as having a "panic tank", and once that's empty, you return to calm. That's why panic attacks end by themselves.
Elliott13
October 6th, 2014 4:18am
Panic attacks are not all that physically dangerous. Although it might feel like you're dying, that is because your body is in panic mode, which may make it difficult to move, think, or even just breathe. When you are having a panic attack, it might be helpful to remind yourself that you are not actually in physical danger.
TheITGuy
December 17th, 2015 12:29pm
My therapist told me, that there are only minimal dangers in physical form. He told me, the worst thing that can happen is that you pass out (and thats rare!). And physical damage will be a cause of the passing out (e.g. hitting the ground). But normally, you should not have a physical damage after a panic attack is over.
FreshThoughts
September 10th, 2014 9:54pm
The physical symptoms aren't as bad as first presumed, it's an instant state of worry in which you'll eventually come out of, although scary you will progress through it.
remnantshadow
October 22nd, 2014 8:57pm
I know this has to be really stressful on you and I'm sorry you are experiencing this. The physical symptoms of a panic attack can make you feel like you are going crazy, loosing control, and even like you are experiencing a heart attack. But they can't kill you.
globaldu72
December 16th, 2015 10:54am
Very little indeed. Even if you were to manage to hold your breath until you passed out, your body would automatically start regular breathing again.
Cash889
December 26th, 2015 11:38pm
I've found that most physical symptoms are harmless, yet terrifying. Some symptoms though, such as serious hyperventilation or any affect that hinders your breathing or your brain should definitely be followed up by a visit to your doctor or a trip to the ER.
bvbcharlotte
April 3rd, 2016 12:15pm
They are not dangerous, when you have a panic attack it may feel like your throat is closing, you can't breathe, you are dizzy, your heart is beating fast, your fingertips might tingle, but you need to remember that you are not in any immediate danger. Its difficult to convince yourself that physical symptoms are not harmful but if you worry about it, it might feel like they are getting worse. Sit down, relax your body one muscle at a time, legs, chest, shoulders, arms and face, and breathe out through your mouth, your body will automatically breathe back in for you, just keep doing this and you should start to feel a little more calm within a minute or so. :-)
Anonymous
August 18th, 2015 5:53pm
well you dont actually die n but what you can do is go to somewhere where you can breath as fast as you can and get some water before it gets worst or ask for help
SimplyBeing
May 8th, 2016 6:09pm
The best answer is to talk to your doctor about how your symptoms impact you. Many people experience panic attacks. The sense of impending doom is part of having profound fear, Fear is a natural emotion and it serves to protect us in dangerous situations so it is not directly harmful. In my experience most of the risk from panic involves how we make decisions when we are in such a state of fear. Making hasty decisions or doing risky things because we are panicked is a real issue and one your doctor can help with. He can also tell you if the stress you experience during a panic attack is a risk to you because of other health issues you may have. I wish you peace ~J
vyyvvy
January 2nd, 2016 2:59pm
Nowise, the physical symptoms of panic attack includes mainly hyperventilation (fast and deep breathing) and palpitation (fast and strong heartbeat) which causes hyperoxygenation of organism and you can feel tingling in limbs, fainting or you can have feeling like you are going out of your body or like having heart attack. But in fact, you are in control all the time, it's only fight or flight reaction which is normal part of organisms auto defense system. But in panic attack it is triggered in situations that didn't contain any risk or danger. Everything that happens is normal and natural reaction of organism, but in this situation you have scare from the triggered fight/flight reaction and it makes that symptoms worsen and that trigger another defense reaction and that scares you.... It's vicious circle. But in every case, it's not dangerous! It's only abnormal, and for your calm, it's normal to feel abnormal in abnormal situation. But one of the important things is to calm yourself and wait if the attack disappear, if not after about 2 hours or if it's worsening, it's strongly recommended go to the hospital and get an assessment. The reaction itself is very energy consuming, so whether the body wants or not it must after some time end it.
Anonymous
January 3rd, 2016 3:22pm
I'd start by urging that if you feel at physical risk during a panic attack, to first try a simple breathing exercises to relax your body. If that's not helpful, call the emergency services and explain the situation. It's always best to be safe. But in reality, most panic attacks have physical symptoms, and those symptoms are generally not at all a major risk to you. Hyperventilation does carry some risks of fainting etc, which is why breathing exercises are an excellent thing to try. But in reality, don't worry yourself further about the physical symptoms. A little twist on "look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves" is "look after your mind, and your body will look after itself". Your mind is the cause of panic attacks, don't let your body, which is ultimately controlled by your mind, dictate to you. Especially when most of the time, there is little risk.
sunflowersandsunshine47
February 10th, 2016 6:07am
The important thing to remember with panic attacks is that they are unbalanced chemical reactions in the brain. I know panic attacks are horrible, and I know how realistic they are, as I've had them for over ten years. If the physical symptoms are making you want to hurt yourself, end your life, or making you pass out etc. they would be considered dangerous
RainbowAtHeart
February 14th, 2017 11:32pm
Physically, the risks tend to be fairly low. The greatest risk would be passing out, but that would take a while and a very severe panic attack
Shasha1997alias
October 31st, 2014 11:28am
Listen I'm not going to chase death well i'll find a way to discuss my problem with someone or maybe i could feel better
Anonymous
June 17th, 2015 12:37pm
They are more dangerous the older you get. The older you are, the less elasticity your circulatory system has. Increased heart rate = increased stress on the circulatory system. It also depends on the situation you are in when having a panic attack.
Anonymous
December 10th, 2015 12:04am
Physical symptoms of a panic attack may not be harmful but they also are not pleasant. Its known that people who have panic attacks say they feel like they are dying, this is fairly common among panic attacks. Unless the individual has had a heart issues in the past I would not worry to much but I would still keep an eye on him or her. Physical symptoms can be shaking, throwing up, fainting, hyperventilation, and sweating and many more other symptoms. Don't worry to much, this is a way for the body to cope with stress, but in the mean time give them comfort and do keep an eye on them just in case, you never know.
HelpfulNinja
December 10th, 2015 11:17pm
The physical symptoms of a panic attack are not extremely dangerous and certainly not life threatening most of the time. It may feel as though you are going to die; however, that is simply your bodies way of telling you that something is extremely wrong and it feels endangered.
DearestHedgehog
December 11th, 2015 5:30pm
If you google "circulatory shock" that's basically what you'll feel like. Sometimes after you will feel sick, and depressed.
Anonymous
December 27th, 2015 2:28pm
Panick attack don't pose any danger or threat unless you were physically to act upon them in a irrational way, It is a perfectly normal human response. And you are at no risk of death.
LivChristine
January 10th, 2016 9:43pm
The physical symptoms of a panic attack can be very frightening - I have gone through many panic attacs myself. It is very common to feel like you could die when the panic attack is at its worst, however you will not die and you will not go crazy, even though it can feel that way. A panic attack normally lasts shorter than half an hour and will reach its absolute top in 10 minutes, before you will be able to calm down again. The feeling of having difficulty breathing, having pain in your chest, feeling extreme panic or having a very fast beating heart is scary, however it is not dangerous and it will not cause any harm to you. Next time a panic attack comes: Try to sit down somewhere. Try to focus on breathing slowly through your mouth. Breath and breath again until the worst is over, even though it is extremely hard. Panic attacks usually does not last very long. Try to think that you will get through it. In the beginning this will be very hard, but it gets better with training. I still get panic attacks once in a while, but having the focus on my breathing really helps.
mike251
January 13th, 2016 5:25pm
The physical symptoms are all made up by your sympathetic nervous system. They are not dangerous. Your goal should be to realize that these symptoms are a fabrication of your fear, not a severe physical illness.