The symptoms of a panic attack can often feel rather extreme and intense and many people find them painful and frightening. This leads many to ask the question: can you die from a panic attack?
Unfortunately, the fact that people worry about dying when they are having a panic attack is actually one of the things that makes them more likely to get the panic attacks in the first place and is also likely to exacerbate the problem.
The good news is that you cannot die from a panic attack. Though there are a few potential risks and complications to consider, which we will look at in this article.
Why This Is a Concern
When you have a panic attack, it can be thought of as an extreme stress response or extreme fight or flight response. This is the same feeling that you get when you have to give a speech to a huge audience, only it’s cranked up to 11 and often it seems to come on at random times when there is no obvious danger or reason to be so stressed.
As with any stressful situation, your body responds during a panic attack by increasing your heart rate and blood pressure and by contracting your muscles. As this gets more and more severe it can feel almost like your heart is going to break out of your rib cage and you can start hyperventilating and breathing very quickly.
This is why so many people think they are getting a heart attack or ask can you die from a panic attack. In reality though, the key thing to remember is that panic attacks are actually just stress attacks. This is something the body is doing to itself and so there’s really no chance you are going to die from it. You would likely pass out long before you killed yourself.
It’s in understanding this and recognizing that the symptoms of panic attacks are inherently harmless, that you are then able to overcome the worsening feelings of anxiety that are associated with the condition and begin to recover.
Dangers and Complications
That said, there are a number of potential risks and complications that may muddy the waters a little.
Can you die from a panic attack? No – but that’s not to say that a panic attack couldn’t indirectly lead to other problems.
For instance, if you have a weak heart and are someone who has previously suffered with heart problems then you might find that a panic attack is enough of a strain on your body to potentially cause a heart attack. This is uncommon but is possible theoretically.
Likewise, many people who are afraid they could die from a panic attack will be worried that they’re going to fall over if they faint. Some people worry about panic attacks while they are driving and think that they could cause them to crash.
The thing to remember here though is that panic attacks don’t come on out of the blue. Instead, the symptoms gradually worsen and worsen to the point where they become almost unbearable. This means you will get plenty of warning while driving in order to find a safe place to pull over. And as long as you’re not dizzy, there’s actually not much reason that your driving should suffer in the meantime.
That said, it is of course always possible to fall when suffering from a panic attack which is why it’s important to sit down somewhere if you notice yourself starting to feel lightheaded or weak.
Can you die from a panic attack that induces a heart attack or that causes you to fall and injure yourself? Theoretically this is possible but it is also highly unlikely. In most cases, anyone who should suffer fatal complications from a heart attack is likely to already have serious health conditions.
The only concern when you suffer from such an episode should be reminding yourself that you are in no immediate danger and this means getting thoughts of death completely out of your mind. All you can do is stay calm and let it pass.