Anxiety Attack: The Most Common Symptoms
- Insane, overwhelming strike of panic
- Dizziness, feeling faint or light headed.
- Accelerated heartbeat or heart palpitations
- Numbness, particularly in your feet and hands.
- Feeling detached and unreal. Basically, you feel like you are going crazy.
- Fearing youre dying.
An anxiety attack can roll in with most of the above or just a few symptoms, coming one after another or all at once.
The symptoms can last from a few seconds to a terrible half an hour, though the average number is 10 minutes says, Doctor Merav Gur.
What Does It Feel Like To Have Anxiety
Not all anxiety is just general nervousness. Some people experience severe anxiety attacks. Also known as panic attacks, these are bouts of what can feel like uncontrollable, severe anxiety that are usually followed by other physical symptoms like rapid heartbeat, chest pain, lightheadedness, and more. …
Panic Attacks Dont Last As Long As They Feel Like They Do
Panic attacks feel like an eternity to the sufferer, but the reality is that your body cant sustain them for very long. The brain goes into fight or flight mode when people experience panic attacks.
Panic attacks typically reach their peak within ten minutes and resolve within thirty minutes. They rarely last more than an hour. That thirty-minute period is so physically and emotionally overwhelming, however, that it feels like much longer and requires a significant recovery period after. Panic attacks are very draining and its difficult to jump right back into school, work, or family fun immediately following an attack.
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What Causes Anxiety Disorders
We dont fully understand what causes anxiety disorders. But it is thought that the following factors can cause anxiety.
Genetics. Some people seem to be born more anxious than others. You may get anxiety through your genes.
Life experience. This could be bad experiences such as being abused or losing a loved one. It could also include big changes in life such as moving home, losing your job or pregnancy.
Drugs. Caffeine in coffee and alcohol can make you feel anxious. Illegal drugs, also known as street drugs can also have an effect.
Circumstances. Sometimes you know what is causing your anxiety. When the problem goes, so does your anxiety.
What Is An Anxiety Attack
Anxiety attacks, also known as panic attacks, are episodes of intense panic or fear. They usually occur suddenly and without warning. Sometimes theres an obvious triggergetting stuck in an elevator, for example, or thinking about the big speech you have to givebut in other cases, the attacks come out of the blue.
Anxiety attacks usually peak within 10 minutes, and they rarely last more than 30 minutes. But during that short time, you may experience terror so severe that you feel as if youre about to die or totally lose control. The physical symptoms are themselves so frightening that many people think theyre having a heart attack. After an anxiety attack is over, you may worry about having another one, particularly in a public place where help isnt available or you cant easily escape.
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When Should I Call The Doctor
Some panic attacks have signs that can be confused with a physical problem like a heart attack. If you have chest pain or trouble breathing or lose consciousness, seek emergency medical care.
You should call your healthcare provider if you have panic attacks and experience:
- Chronic anxiety that interferes with daily life.
- Difficulty concentrating.
Other Causes Of Anxiety Attack Symptoms
Hyperventilation is not the only cause of anxiety attack symptoms either. Anxiety and stress have a tendency to cause your body to experience very strange sensations – often sensations that differ from person to person. Some people may feel like they can’t lift their head, or that something is wrong with their brain – these are all issues that may be caused by anxiety stress.
In addition, anxiety has a tendency to cause the brain to focus on sensations that would otherwise be normal. This is the result of over-sensitization – your mind is so tuned in to your body that it notices very small sensations that someone without anxiety would otherwise ignore.
Finally, the fear of getting anxiety attack symptoms can also trigger the symptoms. It’s unclear why this occurs, but most likely it is psychosomatic in some way .
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What Is The Difference Between A Panic Attack And A Anxiety Attack
First of all, an anxiety attack is different from a panic attack. A panic attack is sudden and goes away in a few minutes. You can calm down a panic attack using cognitive behavioural techniques like controlled breathing exercises.
An anxiety attack builds up over time and then gets released. The release is either mild or severe. The anxiety attack lasts a long time. The longer the attack, the stronger the symptoms become.
An anxiety attack can feel like a heart attack. Thats because an anxiety attack has sweating, shortness of breath, chest pain, and heart palpitations. These are symptoms of a heart attack.
However, an anxiety attack also has an overwhelming sense of panic. You feel like youre losing control or going crazy. You feel like the world has piled everything up against you, or your world is crashing down on you.
Other symptoms of an anxiety attack include nausea and dizziness. You can feel very hot or very cold. Then theres also the feeling of floating outside your body, or feeling like someone else is controlling your body. Either way, youre convinced you are going to die.
How Can I Get Help If I Think I Have An Anxiety Disorder
You should make an appointment to talk with your GP if you are worried about your symptoms. Or they are causing problems in your day to day life.
Your doctor will look at different things when deciding on your treatment such as the following.
- Your diagnosis and symptoms.
- Any other conditions you have.
- Guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence .
Talking therapiesThe NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme has made psychological therapy more available on the NHS. IAPT services mainly provide support for low to moderate anxiety and depression.
The service can be run by the local NHS Trust or a non-NHS agency, like a charity who work with the local Trust.
IAPT should be available in your area. You can often self-refer or ask your GP to refer you.
To find your local the IAPT service you can search online here:
You can also ask your GP or PALS service for details of local IAPT services.
You can get more information about:
- GP: What to expect from your GP by clicking here.
- Medication. Choice and managing problems by clicking here.
- Talking therapies by clicking here.
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Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety: A Physiological Explanation For Each
THE SCIENCE: HOW DOES ANXIETY AFFECT OUR BODIES?
When you are put into an anxiety-provoking situation, an automatic chain of events begins, often known as the fight or flight response. This response happens without us thinking about it because it is triggered by the part of our nervous system whose job it is to control our automatic functions , says Nicky. This part of our nervous system is called the autonomic system and is split into two components: the parasympathetic and the sympathetic systems. These work opposite each other and only one can dominate at a time. When we are in any situation that causes us anxiety, our sympathetic system starts to dominate and the fight or flight reaction begins .
It is important to remember that everyone experiences anxiety symptoms differently. An individual may feel all or none of the following physical symptoms of anxiety or a combination of a few. There can also be more unique physical symptoms that may not be listed here.
It Can Feel Physically Suffocating
The mind and body are closely connected, and people store anxiety in the body. Some of the most common symptoms can manifest as:
- Chest tightness
In some cases, anxiety can lead to panic attacks. These panic attacks can be so intense and debilitating that people and their loved ones might mistake the symptoms for a heart attack. Every year, emergency rooms admit patients who wrongfully assume they had a heart attack.
That is because anxiety can feel physically suffocating. When symptoms flare, you may feel as if you cannot breathe, think, or even see clearly. And when that happens, it may trigger even more anxiety, which perpetuates the vicious cycle.
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How Long Can Anxiety Last
Anxiety attacks typically last no more than 30 minutes, with the symptoms reaching their most intense at about halfway through the attack. Anxiety can build up for hours or even days before the actual attack so it is important to take note of factors that contribute to anxiety to effectively prevent or treat them.
Youre Short Of Breath
Your blood circulates oxygen around your body. When your stress response boosts how quickly youre sending blood around your bodythanks to your heart racingyour breathing might increase to provide you with more oxygen.
If you breathe too quickly , you can actually enhance a lot of the physical anxiety symptoms on this list because your oxygencarbon dioxide balance gets out of whack, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Thats why we often talk about belly breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing, says Dr. Potter. This is essentially breathing slowly and deeply by really using your diaphragm. By slowing down how quickly youre breathing, you have more of a chance to get the oxygen you need, Dr. Potter explains.
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Symptoms Of Anxiety Attacks
It is normal to feel anxious in response to certain situations or experiences. Our bodies have a natural fight-or-flight response when faced with danger or stress. Anxiety attacks go beyond feeling butterflies in your stomach when youre nervous and extend to an overwhelming feeling of helplessness.
The signs and symptoms of an anxiety attack can vary from person to person but are generally experienced as both physical and psychological indicators. Many times the symptoms occur in response to a trigger that the person perceives as a threat or possible danger. Other times, the symptoms can occur spontaneously.
A person experiencing an anxiety attack could have any number of the following signs and symptoms:
Types Of Anxiety Disorder
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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Are Panic Attacks Treatable
Panic attacks are a treatable symptom. Typically, treatment options will be geared toward the underlying cause and may involve a combination of medication and psychotherapy.
Medications prescribed for symptoms of panic attacks include benzodiazepines, a type of anti-anxiety medication that can provide rapid relief for panic symptoms and antidepressants that over time decrease the frequency and intensity of panic symptoms. Psychotherapy can help you explore your fears and learn to manage your frightening physical sensations.
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How Can I Prevent Panic Attacks
Your healthcare provider can help you identify triggers that bring on panic attacks. During psychotherapy, you learn strategies to manage triggering events and prevent an attack. You can also take these actions to lower your odds of having a panic attack:
- Cut back on caffeine.
- Talk to your doctor before taking herbal supplements or over-the-counter medications. Certain substances can increase anxiety.
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How Is Panic Disorder Treated
First, talk to your doctor about your symptoms. Your doctor should do an exam and ask you about your health history to make sure that an unrelated physical problem is not causing your symptoms. Your doctor may refer to you a mental health specialist, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist.
Panic disorder is generally treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment for you.
Psychotherapy. A type of psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy is especially useful as a first-line treatment for panic disorder. CBT teaches you different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to the feelings that come on with a panic attack. The attacks can begin to disappear once you learn to react differently to the physical sensations of anxiety and fear that occur during panic attacks.
For more information on psychotherapy, see .
Medication. Doctors also may prescribe different types of medications to help treat panic disorder:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
Another type of medication called beta-blockers can help control some of the physical symptoms of panic disorder, such as rapid heart rate. Although doctors do not commonly prescribe beta-blockers for panic disorder, they may be helpful in certain situations that precede a panic attack.
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Types Of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety attacks can stem from an anxiety disorder. There are several types of anxiety disorders. Below are three common anxiety disorders that lead to anxiety attacks:
Generalized anxiety disorder
This anxiety disorder is diagnosed in people that experience excessive anxiety or worry for more than 6 months. You may have many worries, like health, finances, relationships, or work.
This type of anxiety disorder is when you fear places or situations that may cause you panic. You will find yourself avoiding these situations that make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed.
A panic disorder is diagnosed in people who have recurrent unexpected panic attacks. You may be in constant worry about when or how your next panic attack will occur.
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What Does Anxiety Physically Feel Like
When you are under stress or anxious, this system kicks into action, and physical symptoms can appear headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, shakiness, or stomach pain. Doctors see it all the time patients with real pain or other symptoms, but nothing is physically wrong with them, says Dr.