HEALTHY LIVING
02/28/2014 08:47 am ET | Updated Feb 28, 2014

What It Really Feels Like To Have A Panic Attack

Eri Morita via Getty Images

If you've ever suffered from a panic attack, you may find solace in the fact that you aren't alone (panic disorders affect approximately 6 million American adults per year). But for those of us who haven't suffered from the heart-stopping fear, we may not be able to empathize with how you're feeling. The disconnect can make anxiety and panic disorders harder to deal with for both the sufferer and their loved ones, leaving both parties feeling more hopeless.

In order to create a better understanding, we asked our Twitter and Facebook communities to share with us what it truly feels like to be engulfed in a panic attack. Take a look at some of their responses below:

"Having a panic attack is terrifying. You feel like you have no control at the time to stop feeling [like] and thinking [that] you are about to die." -- Anne Wolfe Levinsky

"Had one jogging ... panicked, [my] hands distorted and [my] face had pins and needles. Couldn't control breathing and had to lie on footpath. I thought I was having a heart attack. Terrifying." -- Fiona Ludeke

"[Your] heart races, [your] body freezes up and you are definitely not in control." -- Lynne Erickson

"[A panic attack is] a sudden and intense irrational fear that you are about to die. Heart racing, palpitations, mind racing, complete and utter terror that you're about to shut off. It's like your sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight) goes from 0 percent to 100 percent in a matter of seconds. You feel like you've lost your mind and lost control of your body." -- Peter Jackson

"The earth spins, your heart pounds and you feel numb. I can always feel one coming by the tingle in my toes. Nothing can stop it. It's a terrifying and debilitating experience that separates you from reality in a matter of seconds, then returns you with a piece of your sanity missing." -- Lisa Jones

"Everything physical feels out of control: pounding heart, shaking, sweating all over, overwhelming desire to 'get away,' teariness... the worst feeling ever." -- Fiona Floyd

"I used to have them regularly. It was such a feeling of dread and desperation. You feel as if no one person or thing in the world can help you. It is absolute terror and feels like you are trapped with no way of escaping the awful feelings." -- Jennifer Stenning

"[You're] pale in the face, heart racing, about to faint, blurred vision and short of air." -- Greta Catalina

"Racing heart, tunnel vision, numbness, cold sweat, gasping for air, depersonalization. Pretty much on death's doorstep." -- Taylore Frasnelly

"[You have] depersonalisation, a fuzzy head, cold limbs, pins and needles, [you're] light headed, [have a] pounding heart [and] waves of stomach-turning panic." -- Joanne Pritchard

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