In children, panic attacks do not normally begin until late adolescence or early adulthood. A panic attack is characterized by sudden attacks of terror, usually accompanied by a pounding heart, sweatiness, weakness, faintness, or dizziness.
During a panic attack, people with panic disorder may flush or feel chilled; their hands may tingle or feel numb; and they may experience nausea, chest pain, or smothering sensations. Panic attacks usually produce a sense of unreality, a fear of impending doom, or a fear of losing control.
A fear of one's own unexplained physical symptoms is also symptomatic of panic disorder. People having panic attacks sometimes believe they are having heart attacks, losing their minds, or on the verge of death. They can't predict when or where an attack will occur, and between episodes many worry intensely and dread the next attack.
Panic attacks can occur during sleep. An attack usually peaks within 10 minutes, but some symptoms may last much longer.