Panic attacks are a sudden surge, geyser-like erruption, of anxiety that comes over you, often-times without any warning whatsoever. Your heart races, you breath rapidly, you perspire, you become dizzy, feel like you are going to faint and or have a heart attack, and fear that you are severly ill and are going to die. They are terribly frightening and miserable to experience often-times resulting in people developing anticipatory anxiety about having another attack.
The good news is, a panic attack will not hurt you. No one ever died of a panic attack in spite of the fact that most people who experience such attacks are quite sure that they are going to die. As a result many people become afraid of traveling too far from a hospital for fear that they won't be saved when an attack strikes.
Fear of losing control and fainting is also a predominant fear of those experiencing panic attacks. Again, the truth of the matter is that no one faints from a panic attack. In fact, you couldn't faint if you wanted to because when fainting occurs your blood pressure drops because your brain is getting insufficient blood supply. Fainting occurs in order for you to assume a horizontal posture so that the brain gets sufficient blood supply. During a panic attack your heart rate increases and your adrenal gland secrets epinepherine and norepinephrine into your blood stream which increases blood pressure. Your brain is getting alot of blood flow. Because you are terrified, dizzy and disorientated you are sure you are going to faint any minute. But it doesn't happen!
Some people develop panic attacks with agoraphobia and others without agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is an avoidance of situations which the person fears may trigger a panic attack. Such situations differ for each individual. However, common situations which people avoid are being far away from home, driving, being far away from a hospital or any medical care, fear of crowds, and fear of being trapped, such as in a traffic-jam or in an elevator because of an inability to get to a hospital if necessary.