How do I know if I'm really having a panic attack or if I'm just freaking out?

245 Answers
Last Updated: 11/13/2017 at 12:56pm
How do I know if I'm really having a panic attack or if I'm just freaking out?
★ This question about Panic Attacks was starred by a moderator on 5/12/2016.
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Top Rated Answers
Andrejgrupkovic - Expert in Panic Attacks
September 17th, 2015 10:25pm
How can I tell the difference between heart attack and panic attack cause every time I'm scared I'm getting a heart attack
Anonymous
July 24th, 2015 9:02pm
A panic attack is the sensation of an extreme and overwhelming rush of emotions, which can include fear, anxiety and/or stress. During this, all symptoms are involuntary (and that, I believe, is how you would be able to identify a panic attack from a 'freak out') - some of these may include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, trembling, chest pain, a feeling of choking or suffocating, hyperventilation and tunnel vision.
MoonsweptDreams - Expert in Panic Attacks
June 26th, 2015 3:38pm
If you're hyperventilating, shaking uncontrollably, on the verge of tears, feel a sense of impending doom or like you're dying, chances are you're having a real panic attack.
Dovah
July 1st, 2015 1:19pm
These two things can really be tough, and freaking out can even trigger a panic attack, so they're closely linked and I can see why you'd like to get a clear answer on this. A panic attack and freaking out share many symptoms, but during a panic attack you might also get psychical symptoms such as shaking, dizziness, sweating, increased heart rate and so on. This is because adrenaline is being released by your body, which helps separate the two
Anonymous
July 25th, 2015 12:40pm
shortness of breath, sweating, nausea/vomiting feeling, excessive of worrying, you can't speak, unable to breath properly, uncomfortable feeling. It last like 30 min to 1 hour.
Anonymous
June 20th, 2015 9:08pm
A full-blown panic attack includes a combination of the following signs and symptoms: Shortness of breath or hyperventilation. Heart palpitations or a racing heart. Chest pain or discomfort. Trembling or shaking. Choking feeling. Feeling unreal or detached from your surroundings.
violetskies
August 15th, 2015 10:09am
i feel like sometimes when i freak out i will still cry and breathe heavily, but i can think slightly more clearly than during a panic attack. During a panic attack its not just laboured breathing, it feels like you are suffocating, like you will die. I can usually focus on anything other than whats scaring me or the sensations of the attack, which can make it harder to stop. I feel waves of heat and cold, and some times dizzy too. Hope this helps :*
enchantingLove16
August 13th, 2015 10:31am
I think they're the same. Panic attaks involve: hyperventilation (breathing quickly and shallow), feeling as if you are choking, heart palpitations, sweating, feeling dizzy or ligth-headed, trembling, feeling nauseous, feeling tingles or nombness, feeling hot or getting cold chills, pressure on your chest, feeling disconnected to the world, thinking that you are going to die.
JackalopeSoup
July 5th, 2015 4:42pm
Panic attacks are a physical expression of your anxiety. They are often characterized through symptoms such as heavy breathing or hyperventilating, increased heart rate, sweaty palms, aND sometimes dizziness or nausea. For more information on anxiety attacks look at the Self Help guides on anxiety and pa nice attacks.
DHawks
July 10th, 2015 3:49am
A panic attack usually comes on suddenly and feels very alarming and frightening. The thoughts that cross your mind during a panic or anxiety attack can feel unreal, illogical, and out of character. And the physical symptoms of panic and anxiety - like a pounding pulse, chest pain, shortness of breath, sweating, trembling, or dizziness - may get you thinking the worst. When you're freaking out the feeling might be similar but you're more in control of the situation and are physically in better shape. Sometimes it's impossible to tell the difference between both, the important thing is to go back to the coping mechanisms you know and practice them - breathing techniques help a lot in either case.
xkezzax
August 12th, 2015 3:31pm
A panic attack includes a few/all of the signs and symptoms Iv listed these include: Shortness of breath/ hyperventilation, Heart palpitations/racing heart, shaking. Choking sensation, Feeling detached To the thing near you, Chest pains(extremely tight chest), sometimes you head twitching you legs feel weird, or any other body part can feel tingly and start to twitch, you may also feel faint and dizzy, the most important thing it to try and control you breathing and try to reduce them down gradually, sit down against a wall with your arms up and try breathing don't put your head in your hands, mope that helps, if you need someone to talk to about these I'm always here☺️
independentWriter8352
November 13th, 2017 12:56pm
i have had many panic attacks some are small one was really huge
Anonymous
July 22nd, 2015 3:40pm
You will know because you will all of the sudden get an overwhelming feeling that you will not be ok. It is scary and very overpowering
brightVision66
August 9th, 2015 6:18pm
Normally you'll start feeling your chest tighten. Like it's hard to breathe. You can become dizzy or feel light-headed. You'll have a feeling of losing control and you'll feel frightened. Like you may be having a heart attack.
Anonymous
December 18th, 2014 7:13pm
Panic attacks are similar to freaking out, as a panic attack IS freaking out, just very extremely, during panic attacks you may feel like you are in a lot of danger, when in fact you aren't, for example if you are feel threatened by someone you may feel they are hiding in your home waiting to attack you or kill you, when in reality they are simply just being hostile towards you. During a panic attack it is common to feel like your heart is being grabbed and squeezed and a choking feeling like you can't breathe. Sometimes you may get a 'pins and needles' feeling or tingly feeling, feeling sick quickly and shaking is also very common. During a panic attack you might have a fear of death suddenly, which should not occur while just freaking out.
Sauce22
July 9th, 2015 1:08am
Common symptoms of panic attacks (at least for me) are feeling like you're dying, sweating, chest tightness, can't sit still, just awful feeling that you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. Freaking out is just being in a stressful situation or being really anxious about something.
Anonymous
December 13th, 2014 11:43pm
Usually during a panic attack you'll experience your heart palpating and heavy breathing. You'll overall just feel unwell when in an uncomfortable situation that usually makes you anxious. While freaking out is similar, a panic attack is more intense.
HelaDig
July 22nd, 2015 3:18am
Sometimes people will have panic attacks, but they'll be unaware of the concept and would say they're "just freaking out". Though it's not very hard to tell these two apart. Symptoms of a panic attack often are fear and feelings that something terrible is going to happen, or that you're going lose control, go crazy, faint, die... one have to consider the mind's a tendency to think over problems in a frantic way and jump to the worst-case-scenarios. There are some harsh physical sensations, like rapid breathing, a pounding heartbeat, shaking, nausea/vomiting, tightness in the throat, chest pain, headache, dizziness, and hot flashes that feed into the experience. Panic attacks are frightening and uncomfortable. Another key is that they can be pretty hard to come down from.
justhannah21
August 15th, 2015 9:44pm
A panic attack can come in different forms, I myself find myself gasping for breath. It's a very scary experience were you feel complete lack of control over even your own body.
Lilly495
July 12th, 2015 3:54pm
When I'm having a panic attack my hands and feet will go numb and I begin to hyper ventilate. It's also common for me to have racing uncontrollable thoughts and my chest will feel tight and it's common to begin crying. Everything gets very overwhelming and it seems to come out of nowhere.
Anonymous
August 14th, 2015 10:28pm
When i have a hard time breathing , sweating, heart racing its usually panick attack when my brain goes places i should not go i am just freaking out
Anonymous
January 24th, 2016 3:58pm
Youu may have physical symptoms which feel out of control, breathing difficulties, shortness of breath or hyperventilation and general discomfort .Your chest also may hurt. You may also have choking type feelings in your throat and mouth and feel dizzy, sick and difficulties swallowing. You may also feel light headed and confused and frightened as well as feeling very hot and/or very cold. Its very difficult to explain to someone suffering these intense symptoms that it is kind of your mind getting confused and creating the physical discomfort. I never believed it but it does end and you don't have to suffer with the correct help and support. Remember, it doesn't make you weak or anything having a panic attack, intact, if you can come through the other side I believe it makes you stronger. Please don't think you're alone in your suffering.
IamLeonarda
July 8th, 2015 2:28pm
Your heart starts beating like crazy. You start shaking. Now you're sweating and blushing. You feel embarassed and scared. Also, exhausted, you feel like you've just ran a marathon. That's what having a panic attack feels like.
RollingTide
August 13th, 2015 7:02pm
Most people who suffer from panic attacks can identify it as one and can resolve the onset. If you are just freaking out the onset is usually unknown, is uncontrollable, and you are unaware of your actions. Panic Attacks are more over centrally contained to the individual concerned, where as "freak outs" can often include doing harm to others, as our new channels have reminded us of frequently. ie-The confederate flag did not make a deranged white boy shoot 9 black people. THE BOY DID. He FREAKED OUT.
lotusberry
January 23rd, 2016 2:12am
Panic attacks are episodes of extreme fear, you feel like you're dying, losing control and that something awful is about to happen. When you're panicked, you really are freaking out so they are pretty much the same thing. Luckily, nothing bad will happen to you and it will eventually pass. There are lots of breathing techniques available to help you through them
WhisperingPiano
September 29th, 2015 8:18pm
I like to think that Panic attack is losing control where as freaking out is awareness of what is happening.
Lioness07
January 22nd, 2016 3:41pm
When I have a panic attack, my hands start to shake, my forehead starts to sweat and I start feeling like I can't breathe with a knot in my throat. My heart races so fast that I get chest pain. I also feel like I will pass out.
Anaya98
January 25th, 2016 2:39am
Panic attacks often strike when you’re away from home, but they can happen anywhere and at any time. You may have one while you’re in a store shopping, walking down the street, driving in your car, or sitting on the couch at home. The signs and symptoms of a panic attack develop abruptly and usually reach their peak within 10 minutes. Most panic attacks end within 20 to 30 minutes, and they rarely last more than an hour. A full-blown panic attack includes a combination of the following signs and symptoms: Shortness of breath or hyperventilation Heart palpitations or a racing heart Chest pain or discomfort Trembling or shaking Choking feeling Feeling unreal or detached from your surroundings Sweating Nausea or upset stomach Feeling dizzy, light-headed, or faint Numbness or tingling sensations Hot or cold flashes Fear of dying, losing control, or going crazy
IoanaAdriana
June 9th, 2016 9:09am
A panic attack is a brief episode of intense anxiety and it causes the physical sensations of fear. These sensations (or symptoms) can include a racing heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness, trembling and muscle tension. The panic attack occurs frequently and unexpectedly and is often NOT related to any external threat (unlike fear, who is in most cases a response to an external threat). It can last from a few minutes to half an hour, but the physical and emotional effects of the attack may last for a few hours. accompanied by specific physical reactions. The symptoms of a panic attack can include the following: Heightened vigilance for danger and physical symptoms Anxious and irrational thinking A strong feeling of dread, danger or foreboding Fear of going mad, losing control or dying Feeling lightheaded and dizzy Tingling and chills, particularly in the arms and hands Trembling or shaking, sweating Hot flushes Accelerated heart rate A feeling of constriction in the chest Breathing difficulties, including shortness of breath Nausea or abdominal distress Tense muscles Dry mouth Feelings of unreality and detachment from the environment. So in case you're experiencing these physical reactions, you should seek help either from your doctor, a psychologist, an anxiety center even.
listeningandcaring
August 8th, 2015 7:07pm
Often panic attacks result in physical sensations, such as tightening in the chest, heart racing, etc.