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A female asked:

I felt like maybe i was having panic attack at first. my heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest. arms, hands and face went numb. my mouth and hands both contracted to the point that i was barely able to use them.

2 doctor answers5 doctors weighed in
Dr. Heidi Fowler
Psychiatry 25 years experience
Panic : Panic attacks are usually brief. They often last a couple of minutes to around ten minutes. Symptoms can include a sense of severe anxiety or panic as well as chest tightness or pain and a rapid or pounding heartbeat. A person can experience hot flashes or chills and perspire heavily. There may be a sense of a tickle sensation in the stomach or nausea. When a person has a panic attack they may feel dizzy or faint and may become physically shaky. The person may fear that they are going crazy, they are out of control or that they are about to die. It is reported that 60% of panic attacks are accompanied by hyperventilation. During hyperventilation the person breathes faster or deeper than normal which causes them to blow off too much carbon dioxide (co2). This in turn can lead to numbness and tingling of the hands, feet and lips. When hyperventilation is severe it can cause muscle spasm in the hands and feet. It is very important to have a full physical evaluation because there are a number of medical conditions that can cause a pounding heart, numbness and muscle contractions. Good luck.
Dr. Adam Front
Dr. Adam Front commented
Clinical Psychology 27 years experience
Although it can feel like you are going to pass out, this is unlikely, because passing out is usually from sudden drop in blood pressure, while in a panic attack BP is usually way UP. If short of breath, fully exhaling is better than trying to breathe in harder. Your chest muscles are likely preventing the lungs from inflating well, but if you empty yr lungs your diaphragm reflex will take over and help you get a fuller breath. Exhaling is also relaxing in itself. When we are stressed, we often sigh a lot - I believe this is because the body knows what we need.
Sep 5, 2013
Dr. John O'Malley
Child Psychiatry 54 years experience
Awful feeling: Panic attacks are awful to experience and demands relief from the symptoms. He describe the symptoms well. There are several courses of action. See your family doctor and get a clean bill of health. Then treatment with an ssri anti anxiety/depression medication is indicated. A very short acting benzodiazapine (xanax) can be taken at the first symptoms of a panic attack.

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Last updated Oct 3, 2016

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