An individual with panic disorder may feel as though he or she is losing control, going crazy, has strong feelings of impending doom. These are symptoms of a panic attack. Other symptoms of a panic attack are pounding of the heart, chest pains, sweating, lightheadedness, dizziness, trembling or quivering, nausea or other stomach problems, shortness of breath, numbness or tingling. All of these can occur under other conditions (for example: nausea due to food poisoning, light headedness due to dehydration, and sweating due to heat), but if they come in a combination, or without explanation, it could be a panic attack. Even in its least disturbing form, panic disorder causes particularly troubling symptoms.
But don’t panic. Panic attacks are not limited only to those who have Panic Disorder. Some attacks occasionally occur in people who are free of mental illness. They also commonly accompany other psychiatric conditions such as social phobia (fear of embarrassment), generalized anxiety disorder, and major depression, and extremely stressful conditions. To be diagnosed with panic disorder, an individual must have had at least two unexpected panic attacks and either be worried about future attacks or take precautions to avoid the same. In those with the disorder, the severe anxiety between attacks can actually result in a full-blown phobia. For example, if someone had a panic attack while riding the train, they may develop a fear of trains. It is not yet clear how big a role stress plays in the development of these disorders. Recent studies suggest that people with panic disorder have a lowered threshold for activating their mechanisms for combating stress. A person with panic disorder might subconsciously perceive non-threatening situations as dangerous, and thus the stress systems become activated.
Effective non-drug treatment regimens utilize cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which is will attempt to help an individual with panic disorder to determine what action or change he or she should take in his/her behavior in order to effect a cure.
The decision whether or not to seek treatment should not be taken lightly. If you have panic disorder, it is very important for you to recognize that you are not actually having a heart attack. Panic attacks often feel like a heart attack, but the symptoms will soon pass and you should not have to visit the emergency room. This reassurance itself should prove to be therapeutic. Don’t worry.
Reference: Depression the Way Out