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How Do Anxiety Attacks Happen

Feeling Of Doom And Peak

anxiety attacks happen

At this point you’ll often experience feelings of doom. Once again, this is entirely uncontrollable, and a natural reaction the symptoms. It’s at this point where people feel like they’re about to die, or as though something terrible is about to happen. All of these symptoms become more and more overwhelming.

Suddenly it peaks. You experience this intense dread, and it feels like time slows down to a stop. Then everything starts to drain slowly away. You start to feel a little bit better, but only marginally so, and often you’ll be filled with a considerable amount of fatigue from that entire experience. You’ll be sweaty, shaking, and possibly still have health anxiety or fears as a result. But you’ll usually feel a tad bit better as it starts its slow but steady decline.

Anxiety attacks may have other symptoms as well. There are unusual symptoms like back pain, nerve firing, cold feet, and even itching. There are also severe symptoms like derealization . All of these are no more dangerous, but all of them can be very concerning to the person who is experiencing them.

Panic attacks are not dangerous events, and many who get them are completely healthy. But there are so many physical symptoms involved and so much anxiety that they often feel like something terrible is wrong with your health – even if you know you have an anxiety attack problem.

What Is Separation Anxiety Disorder

This condition mostly happens to children or teens, who may worry about being away from their parents. Children with separation anxiety disorder may fear that their parents will be hurt in some way or not come back as promised. It happens a lot in preschoolers. But older children and adults who experience a stressful event may have separation anxiety disorder as well.

Symptoms Of Anxiety Disorders:

Anyone may experience these symptoms during stressful times. However, individuals with anxiety disorders may experience them in absence of stress, with more severe symptoms and/or with several symptoms appearing together.

  • Inability to relax
  • Feelings of dread, apprehension or losing control
  • Trembling or shaking, sweating or chills
  • Fainting or dizziness, feelings of detachment
  • Thoughts of death

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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy For Anxiety

Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most widely-used therapy for anxiety disorders. Research has shown it to be effective in the treatment of panic disorder, phobias, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder, among many other conditions.

CBT addresses negative patterns and distortions in the way we look at the world and ourselves. As the name suggests, this involves two main components:

  • Cognitive therapy examines how negative thoughts, or cognitions, contribute to anxiety.
  • Behavior therapy examines how you behave and react in situations that trigger anxiety.
  • The basic premise of CBT is that our thoughtsnot external eventsaffect the way we feel. In other words, its not the situation youre in that determines how you feel, but your perception of the situation.

    For example, imagine that youve just been invited to a big party. Consider three different ways of thinking about the invitation, and how those thoughts would affect your emotions.

    Situation: A friend invites you to a big party

    Thought #1: The party sounds like a lot of fun. I love going out and meeting new people!

    Emotions: Happy, excited.

    Thought #2: Parties arent my thing. Id much rather stay in and watch a movie.

    Emotions: Neutral.

    Thought #3:I never know what to say or do at parties. Ill make a fool of myself if I go.

    Emotions: Anxious, sad.

    Why Do I Feel Like This When Im Not In Any Real Danger

    Chest Pain Anxiety Attack Symptoms

    Early humans needed the fast, powerful responses that fear causes, as they were often in situations of physical danger however, we no longer face the same threats in modern-day living.

    Despite this, our minds and bodies still work in the same way as our early ancestors, and we have the same reactions to our modern worries about bills, travel and social situations. But we cant run away from or physically attack these problems!

    The physical feelings of fear can be scary in themselves especially if you are experiencing them and you dont know why, or if they seem out of proportion to the situation. Instead of alerting you to a danger and preparing you to respond to it, your fear or anxiety can kick in for any perceived threat, which could be imaginary or minor.

    Read Also: How To Describe Anxiety To Doctor

    Do I Have An Anxiety Disorder

    If you identify with any of the following seven signs and symptoms, and they just wont go away, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder:

  • Are you constantly tense, worried, or on edge?
  • Does your anxiety interfere with your work, school, or family responsibilities?
  • Are you plagued by fears that you know are irrational, but cant shake?
  • Do you believe that something bad will happen if certain things arent done a certain way?
  • Do you avoid everyday situations or activities because they cause you anxiety?
  • Do you experience sudden, unexpected attacks of heart-pounding panic?
  • Do you feel like danger and catastrophe are around every corner?
  • When To Seek Professional Help

    While self-help coping strategies can be very effective, if your worries, fears, or anxiety attacks have become so great that theyre causing extreme distress or disrupting your daily routine, its important to seek professional help.

    If youre experiencing a lot of physical symptoms, you should start by getting a medical checkup. Your doctor can check to make sure that your anxiety isnt caused by a medical condition, such as a thyroid problem, hypoglycemia, or asthma. Since certain drugs and supplements can cause anxiety, your doctor will also want to know about any prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, herbal remedies, and recreational drugs youre taking.

    If your physician rules out a medical cause, the next step is to consult with a therapist who has experience treating anxiety disorders. The therapist will work with you to determine the cause and type of your disorder and devise a course of treatment.

    Recommended Reading: How To Treat Anxiety Disorder

    Focus Your Attention On A Specific Object

    If you prefer to keep your eyes open during an anxiety attack, then try focusing your attention on a single object. The object must be clearly within your field of vision. Note every possible detail about it. Do this until the moment of anxiety has passed.

    This will help distract you from your anxiety while allowing you to focus on something that is stable. Because anxiety can go wherever you do, you may find it helpful to carry a comfort object around with you. This could be anything that you find to be soothing, as long as it is small enough to fit into your pocket or bagmaybe a smooth rock, a stress ball, a sentimental object, or anything else that you can hold.

    Your object will then be the thing that you automatically engage with if your anxiety begins to flare up. Paying attention to your comfort object will shift your focus away from your anxious thoughts and onto the object, which will decrease your symptoms of anxiety.

    When To Get Help

    Why do panic attacks happen so often at night?

    See a GP if you’ve been experiencing symptoms of panic disorder.

    They’ll ask you to describe your symptoms, how often you get them, and how long you have had them.

    They may also carry out a physical examination to rule out other conditions that could be causing your symptoms.

    It can sometimes be difficult to talk about your feelings, emotions and personal life, but try not to feel anxious or embarrassed.

    You may be diagnosed with panic disorder if you have regular and unexpected panic attacks followed by at least a month of continuous worry or concern about having further attacks.

    Recommended Reading: What To Do When Having Anxiety

    How Does Psychotherapy Treat Anxiety Disorders

    Psychotherapy, or counseling, helps you deal with your emotional response to the illness. A mental health provider talks through strategies to help you better understand and manage the disorder. Approaches include:

    • Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most common type of psychotherapy used with anxiety disorders. CBT for anxiety teaches you to recognize thought patterns and behaviors that lead to troublesome feelings. You then work on changing them.
    • Exposure therapy focuses on dealing with the fears behind the anxiety disorder. It helps you engage with activities or situations you may have been avoiding. Your provider may also use relaxation exercises and imagery with exposure therapy.

    The Link Between Anxiety Symptoms And Depression

    Many people with anxiety disorders also suffer from depression at some point. Anxiety and depression are believed to stem from the same biological vulnerability, which may explain why they so often go hand-in-hand. Since depression makes anxiety worse , its important to seek treatment for both conditions.

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    Information For Carers Friends And Relatives

    If you are a carer, friend or relative of someone who hears voices, you can get support.

    How can I get support?

    You can do the following.

    • Speak to your GP about medication and talking therapies for yourself.
    • Speak to your relatives care team about a carers assessment.
    • Ask for a carers assessment from your local social services.
    • Join a carers service. They are free and available in most areas.
    • Join a carers support group for emotional and practical support. Or set up your own.

    What is a carers assessment?A carers assessment is an assessment of the support that you need so that you can continue in your caring role. To get a carers assessment you need to contact your local authority.

    How do I get support from my peers?You can get peer support through carer support services or carers groups. You can search for local groups in your area by using a search engine such as Google. Or you can contact the Rethink Mental Illness Advice Service and we will search for you.

    How can I support the person I care for?

    You can do the following.

    • Read information about anxiety disorders.
    • Ask the person you support to tell you what their symptoms are and if they have any self-management techniques that you could help them with.
    • Encourage them to see a GP if you are worried about their mental health.
    • Ask to see a copy of their care plan, if they have one. They should have a care plan if they are supported by a care coordinator.
    • Help them to manage their finances.

    You can find out more about:

    When Might I Have Panic Attacks

    What a panic attack feels and looks like : coolguides

    Panic attacks happen at different times for everyone. Some people have one panic attack then don’t ever experience another, or you might find that you have them regularly, or several in a short space of time. You might notice that particular places, situations or activities seem to trigger panic attacks. For example, they might happen before a stressful appointment.

    Most panic attacks last between 5 to 20 minutes. They can come on very quickly. Your symptoms will usually be at their worst within 10 minutes. You might also experience symptoms of a panic attack over a longer period of time. This could be because you’re having a second panic attack, or you’re experiencing other symptoms of anxiety.

    “My panic attacks seem to come out of the blue now. But in fact, they seem to be triggered mainly at night when I want to go to sleep but cannot stop my mind racing, experiencing worry and panic about anything that may be on my mind.”

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    What Causes Anxiety Disorders

    Anxiety disorders are like other forms of mental illness. They dont come from personal weakness, character flaws or problems with upbringing. But researchers dont know exactly what causes anxiety disorders. They suspect a combination of factors plays a role:

    • Chemical imbalance: Severe or long-lasting stress can change the chemical balance that controls your mood. Experiencing a lot of stress over a long period can lead to an anxiety disorder.
    • Environmental factors: Experiencing a trauma might trigger an anxiety disorder, especially in someone who has inherited a higher risk to start.
    • Heredity: Anxiety disorders tend to run in families. You may inherit them from one or both parents, like eye color.

    Symptoms Of Anxiety Attacks And What They Feel Like

    Anxiety attacks, while extremely distressing to an individual experiencing them, are ultimately harmless.

    It is common, however, for those undergoing an anxiety attack to feel as if they are dying, going insane, or losing control of themselves. Because of the severity of these symptoms, it is important to understand exactly what an anxiety attack feels like to understand the distressing nature of this condition.

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    How Thought Challenging Works

    To understand how thought challenging works in cognitive behavioral therapy, consider the following example: Maria wont take the subway because shes afraid shell pass out, and then everyone will think shes crazy. Her therapist has asked her to write down her negative thoughts, identify the errorsor cognitive distortionsin her thinking, and come up with a more rational interpretation. The results are below.

    Challenging Negative Thoughts
    Negative thought #1: What if I pass out on the subway?
    Cognitive distortion: Predicting the worst.

    More realistic thought: Ive never passed out before, so its unlikely that I will pass out on the subway.

    Negative thought #2: If I pass out, it will be terrible!
    Cognitive distortion: Blowing things out of proportion.

    More realistic thought: If I faint, Ill come to in a few moments. Thats not so terrible.

    Negative thought #3: People will think Im crazy.
    Cognitive distortion: Jumping to conclusions.

    More realistic thought: People are more likely to be concerned if Im okay.

    Replacing negative thoughts with more realistic ones is easier said than done. Often, negative thoughts are part of a lifelong pattern of thinking. It takes practice to break the habit. Thats why cognitive behavioral therapy includes practicing on your own at home as well.

    CBT may also include:

    Types Of Anxiety Disorder

    Why Do I Have Panic Attacks?

    There are several different classified anxiety disorders. Each one features different types of symptoms that can, in some cases, be triggered by specific situations.

    Panic disorder : This involves at least two panic attacks accompanied by the constant fear of future attacks. People with panic disorder may lose a job, refuse to travel or leave their home, or completely avoid anything they believe will trigger an attack of anxiety.

    Generalized anxiety disorder : This is a constant state of worry about a number of events or activities in the persons life.

    Phobic disorder: This features an incapacitating and irrational fear of an object or situation, for example, a fear of spiders or open spaces . Most adults with phobic disorder are aware that their fear is irrational.

    Obsessive-compulsive disorder : This condition is marked by unwanted repeated thoughts and behaviors .

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