If you haven’t uttered these words yourself, chances are you’ve heard someone else say them:

“I think I’m having a panic attack.”

It’s a common phrase that gets tossed around, usually when describing stressful, high-anxiety situations. But in many cases, it’s not entirely accurate.

“Most of us know what anxiety feels like, but for some, anxiety can reach a heightened level known as a panic attack,” explains licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Jeff Nalin, Psy.D., founder of the Paradigm Malibu Treatment Center. “In periods of severe stress, our body’s defense mechanism kicks in by activating our natural fight-or-flight response, which triggers a host of emotional and physical reactions.”


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