panic attack

plural panic attacks

Definition of panic attack

: a sudden feeling or episode of panic specifically : a brief episode of intense fear or dread that is of sudden onset and typically subsides within 30 minutes, usually occurs for no apparent reason but may sometimes be associated with an identifiable triggering stimulus (such as an existing phobia), and is accompanied by a sense of unreality and impending loss of control and by various debilitating physical symptoms (such as increased heart rate, chest pain, dizziness, and shortness of breath) Those undergoing a panic attack often believe they are suffering a heart attack or some other illness. — Lillian Lee Kim Agoraphobia is a fear only of fear itself, that is, of any situation where help would be unavailable and escape difficult in case of a panic attack. The Harvard Mental Health Letter — compare anxiety attack

Examples of panic attack in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Conrad have a panic attack while sailing with Cleveland. Samantha Olson, Seventeen, 18 June 2022 MacDowell said the panic attack occurred shortly after Donald Trump got elected president, which didn’t help her emotional state on set. Zack Sharf, Variety, 11 May 2022 And shooting that was really hard, especially directing that scene, and then giving myself a panic attack. Wilson Chapman, Variety, 12 June 2022 But when the shelter’s electricity failed, Misha had a panic attack, persuading Ms. Rohozhyna to forgo safety underground and move into a day center that her son had attended in peacetime. Maryna Dubyna, WSJ, 7 June 2022 Diving into the second season, though, provides a forceful reminder of just how good this show is at getting you inside the head of someone constantly on the edge of a panic attack. Caroline Framke, Variety, 19 Apr. 2022 Gabby says the prospect of being in the final three is giving her a (very quiet) panic attack. Kristen Baldwin,, 9 Mar. 2022 One particular scene showed Ruhl having a panic attack, which led to a fight with Thompson about his night at a cast party without her. Kelly Wynne,, 2 Mar. 2022 The mainstream media had a jingoistic panic attack over U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the ongoing pandemic is horribly unpleasant and depressing. Ryan Cooper, The Week, 21 Oct. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'panic attack.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of panic attack

1958, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for panic attack

Time Traveler

The first known use of panic attack was in 1958

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Dictionary Entries Near panic attack


panic attack

panic button

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Statistics for panic attack

Last Updated

28 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Panic attack.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for panic attack

panic attack


Medical Definition of panic attack

: an episode of intense fear or apprehension that is of sudden onset and may occur for no apparent reason or as a reaction to an identifiable triggering stimulus (as a stressful event) specifically : one that is accompanied by usually four or more bodily or cognitive symptoms (as heart palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath, or feelings of unreality) and that typically peaks within 10 minutes of onset


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