How Long Do Panic Attacks Last?

Medically Reviewed By Vara Saripalli, Psy.D.
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Typically, panic attacks last 5–20 minutes. However, some panic attack symptoms, such as exhaustion, can last long after the panic attack has passed. This article will discuss how long panic attacks last. It will also discuss the symptoms of panic attacks, tips for coping with them, and how to prevent them.

How long do panic attacks last?

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Panic attacks typically last 5–20 minutes. In most cases, the symptoms of a panic attack peak in 10 minutes or less. However, some physical and emotional symptoms can last for hours after the panic attack has subsided.

A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense anxiety and fear. It comes on unexpectedly and often without an obvious reason. The frequency of panic attacks varies from person to person. If you have frequent and prolonged panic attacks, you may be developing panic disorder.

Panic attacks are common, and most people will experience a panic attack at some point. Just because you experience a panic attack does not mean you will develop panic disorder.

Panic attacks can be scary, but they are not dangerous.

Learn more about panic disorder.

What are the symptoms of a panic attack?

The symptoms of a panic attack typically come on suddenly and unexpectedly. They may vary from person to person. However, panic attacks will usually include at least some of the following symptoms:

Learn more about panic attacks.

Tips for coping with panic attacks

Ways you can help yourself through a panic attack include:

  • Avoid self-talk that reinforces your symptoms.
  • Remind yourself that the symptoms may be uncomfortable, but they are not life threatening.
  • Focus on something outside of your body, such as the lyrics to a favorite song or the sights and sounds around you.
  • Do not flee from the situation, which can reinforce the idea that your panic attacks are unbearable. Sit and allow your symptoms to pass.
  • Try breathing exercises, such as:
    • Inhale slowly through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth.
    • Count to five during each inhale and exhale.
    • Close your eyes and focus on your breathing.
  • Try grounding techniques, such as:
    • Press your feet firmly to the floor or ground.
    • Exercise, stretch, or massage your muscles.
    • Talk with a friend or someone you trust.

How can you prevent panic attacks?

Since panic attacks tend to come on unexpectedly, you cannot always prevent them. However, you can help prevent their frequency. Ways to prevent panic attacks include:

  • Try practicing breathing exercises.
  • Exercise regularly to help manage your stress levels, improve your mood, and release tension.
  • Eat regular meals.
  • Avoid or limit caffeine, alcohol, and smoking, which can worsen your panic attacks.
  • Be open with those around you and talk with people you trust about your panic attacks.
  • Try to manage your worries by setting aside time to focus on them or write them down.
  • Keep a journal about your panic attacks. This can help you learn what may trigger them.

When to see a doctor for panic attacks

If you experience frequent, prolonged panic attacks and frequent feelings of anxiety, you may be developing panic disorder.

Other symptoms of panic disorder include:

  • feeling out of control
  • having intense worry about when the next panic attack will happen
  • avoiding places or situations out of fear they will give you a panic attack

If you experience any of these symptoms or have concerns about your panic attacks, contact your doctor or mental health professional.

Read nine things to know about panic attacks.

Summary

Panic attacks are sudden episodes of fear and anxiety. They typically come on suddenly and without an obvious reason. The symptoms can feel scary, but they are not dangerous.

Panic attacks typically last 5–20 minutes, and symptoms usually peak within 10 minutes. Some physical and emotional symptoms may last for a long time after the panic attack has subsided.

Most people will experience a panic attack at some point in their life. However, frequent and prolonged panic attacks may be a sign of panic disorder.

If you experience frequent panic attacks, contact your doctor or mental health professional.

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Medical Reviewer: Vara Saripalli, Psy.D.
Last Review Date: 2022 Aug 12
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