This situation can be very difficult for a non-sufferer, to understand, mainly because they would be able to control the situation.
Panic attacks have a root cause in the psychology of the person, despite showing physical symptoms.
People who suffer panic attacks usually seek to avoid the situations they believe will trigger an attack. For example, someone who has a fear of flying avoids doing so and travels by sea, road or, in the worst cases, not at all.
This begins the cycle of avoidance and restriction of lifestyle. However, it continues to feed the cause; the panic attacks will not go away.
The symptoms are different in each person. Generally they can include heart palpitations, dizziness, tingling in the hands or feet, chest pains, disorientation, excess sweating, trembling or shortness of breath, sometimes leading to hyperventilation.
Many articles taken from 'A word with the doctor', by Dr. John Windsor.