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 When dealing with a person suffering from a panic attack because of a recent trauma, the first-aider might discourage conversation about the details of the event to avoid reinforcing the memory. The Editors, Scientific American, "A Step to Ease the Pandemic Mental Health Crisis," 26 Jan. 2021 The face-to-desk panic attack in Hereditary alone should secure acting work for him for years. Jordan Crucchiola, Vulture, "Disney and Nickelodeon Stars Gone Pop: A Ranking," 25 Jan. 2021 Being in the midst of a panic attack or other mental health crisis can be a scary experience. Sarah Bonnette|contributing Writer,, "Safe Haven's help and healing will include carefully selected works of art," 3 Jan. 2021 At the police station, the woman had a panic attack and started banging her head against the wall. John Benson, cleveland, "Incessant dog barking draws ire of apartment neighbors: Broadview Heights Police Blotter," 16 Dec. 2020 Kimone Nunis, 29, told the Union-Tribune that her father was in the throes of a panic attack, and tried to hurl himself out of a window. Teri Figueroa, San Diego Union-Tribune, "More family members sue Chula Vista over death of father after struggle with police," 7 Dec. 2020 The final straw was when her husband, spared in the first round of infections, had what appeared to be a panic attack in a taxi, thinking he had been infected and couldn’t breathe. Fox News, "Mexico tops 100,000 coronavirus deaths, 4th country to do so," 21 Nov. 2020 At the very other end of that continuum is a full-blown panic attack: heart racing, pupils dilating, hyperventilating. Jessica Wapner, Scientific American, "Vision and Breathing May Be the Secrets to Surviving 2020," 16 Nov. 2020 Concerns about the mental health of hotel guests were raised when one was rushed to the hospital suffering a panic attack after news of the quarantine extension emerged. Washington Post, "Australia suffers its own ‘Pizzagate’ — with a side of coronavirus," 20 Nov. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of panic attack

1958, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of panic attack was in 1958

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Statistics for panic attack

Last Updated

16 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Panic attack.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

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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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