Identifying Symptoms And Learning How To Manage An Anxiety Attack
An anxiety attack is a reaction to a particular stressor. This reaction is often characterized by fearfulness, overwhelming hopelessness, and a racing heart. Anxiety attacks are commonly used interchangeably with panic attacks, but the conditions are different even though they share many similarities.
General feelings of anxiety, when faced with an unfamiliar situation, are common and happen to everyone. This kind of anxiety may feel like uneasiness in the stomach, often referred to as feeling butterflies in your stomach. However, anxiety attacks are more severe reactions than general feelings of anxiety.
Anxiety attacks cause a physical and mental response to a specific stressor, fear, or circumstance. For example, receiving sudden and unexpected bad news from a relative could trigger an attack, or hearing footsteps while in a dark alley could also prompt a reaction.
Anxiety attacks are usually shorter episodes than panic attacks. They typically subside once the stressor or anxiety-provoking situation is out of the picture. Once an individual walks past that dark alley and makes it through to a location where they feel safer, the symptoms will lessen.
What Does Anxiety Look Like
Anxiety is made up of three parts: thoughts, body sensations, and actions.
1. ThoughtsSomething bad is going to happen!
Anxiety comes up when we think that something bad is going to happen.
Imagine that you have been invited to a party on the weekend. If you think that no one will talk to you, you will feel upset and wonder if you should even go. If you think that it will be fun, you will feel excited to go to the party.
2. Body sensationsGetting ready to fight, run away, or freeze
You can feel anxiety in your body. You may feel your heart beating faster. You may feel like you cannot breathe. You may feel hot and sweaty. You may feel shaky. You may have an upset stomach.
These sensations are signs that your body is getting ready to take action. They may not feel good, but they cannot hurt you.
3. ActionsFighting, running away, or freezing
We feel anxious when we feel threatened. These actions are the ways that we protect ourselves. We usually take action in three different ways:
We may fight by acting out or talking back.Hurry up! We are going to be late!
We may run away or try to avoid something.I do not think that anyone will talk to me, so I will not join my coworkers for lunch.
We may freeze or have a hard time thinking clearly.I do not know what to do!
How Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Related To Anxiety Disorders
Some people feel the effects of stress in their stomachs. People with IBS have uncomfortable problems with digestion, including stomach pain, constipation and diarrhea. They also frequently have anxiety and depression, which can make symptoms worse.
The connection between IBS and anxiety comes from the nervous system partly controlling the colon. The nervous systems response to stress may affect the stomach. Among people who get treated for IBS, anywhere from 50% to 90% may also have an anxiety disorder or depression. Treatment for IBS may include stress management and psychotherapy to relieve symptoms.
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How Does Medication Treat Anxiety Disorders
Medications cant cure an anxiety disorder. But they can improve symptoms and help you function better. Medications for anxiety disorders often include:
- Anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines, may decrease your anxiety, panic and worry. They work quickly, but you can build up a tolerance to them. That makes them less effective over time. Your healthcare provider may prescribe an anti-anxiety medication for the short-term, then taper you off or the provider may add an antidepressant to the mix.
- Antidepressants can also help with anxiety disorders. They tweak how your brain uses certain chemicals to improve mood and reduce stress. Antidepressants may take some time to work, so be patient. If you feel like youre ready to stop taking antidepressants, talk to your provider first.
- Beta-blockers, usually used for high blood pressure, can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of anxiety disorders. They can relieve rapid heartbeat, shaking and trembling.
Your healthcare provider will work with you to find the right medication combination and dosage. Dont change the dose without consulting your provider. Theyll monitor you to make sure the medicines are working without causing negative side effects.
How Social Anxiety Manifests
How exactly does social anxiety manifest? In some cases, there are specific social situations that trigger anxiety, while other situations rarely bother a person. Triggers for social anxiety are highly subjective and depend on the individual in question.
Some examples of common social anxiety triggers include:
- Freezing up when meeting someone new: Sometimes, meeting someone new can trigger social anxiety. Individuals may feel uncomfortable around people they do not know well.
- Stumbling through a speech or presentation: Individuals with social anxiety may feel very anxious when speaking in public. For some, getting through even a few slides of a presentation without stumbling on their words is a challenge. For others, social anxiety and speech problems happen no matter the social situation.
- Talking to a police officer or other authority figure: Many people feel nervous talking to authority figures like bosses or police officers. Individuals with social anxiety may feel particularly unsettled when talking to such figures.
- Interviewing for a new job: Most people are nervous before a job interview and want to create the best impression of themselves as possible. However, for some, job interviews can trigger social anxiety, decrease their performance or impact their ability to get a job.
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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.
How Do You Describe What Anxiety Feels Like
When I was asked to write about “What does anxiety feel like?” I immediately became anxious. Why? I write about anxiety regularly, but this particular topic had me doubting myself before I even started writing.
I have anxiety, I have battled it since my teens , and I know exactly what anxiety feels like. So, why on earth am I letting myself think that I am not capable?
That is what anxiety does it makes you hesitate, it makes you doubt yourself, and it makes you question how you could possibly be good enough. Its a constant battle of fight or flight.
When we are experiencing anxiety, the brain releases stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline. This causes us to feel the same symptoms we experience when our brain tells us we are in danger, such as a rapid heart rate, hyperventilation, sweating, and panic.
We want to fight it, we want to stand our ground and face our fears, but the symptoms of anxiety fill us with an overwhelming desire to flee.
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Why Do I Become Anxious
Anxiety may be triggered by things such as a thought or feeling that frightens you or makes you feel threatened, powerless, worthless or like a failure. Sometimes anxiety may be associated with high demands or feelings of guilt or shame. Its common to feel strange and odd, and that theres something wrong with you.
Anxiety can also be triggered if you are betrayed or abandoned. Running the risk of losing something that is important to you such as security, status or love may also cause you to become anxious.
Anxiety Isnt Only In Your Head
If you have anxiety, you might frequently feel worried, nervous, or afraid about ordinary events. These feelings can be upsetting and difficult to manage. They can also make daily life a challenge.
Anxiety can also cause physical symptoms. Think about a time when you felt anxious. Maybe your hands were sweaty or your legs were shaky. Your heart rate might have sped up. You could have felt sick to your stomach.
You might have linked these symptoms to your nervousness. But maybe you werent sure why you felt unwell.
Most people experience anxiety on occasion. Anxiety can be serious or turn into a disorder if it lasts for a long time, causes significant distress, or interferes with your life in other ways.
Types of anxiety include:
Some types of anxiety have unique symptoms specific to the fears linked to the anxiety. In general, though, anxiety disorders share many physical symptoms.
Read on to learn more about anxietys physical symptoms and how they can affect you.
Anxiety can have physical symptoms that affect health and daily life.
Specific types of anxiety might have additional physical symptoms.
If youre having a panic attack, you might:
- fear that youre going to die
- have trouble breathing or feel as if youre choking
- have numb or tingling sensations in parts of your body
- have chest pain
- feel lightheaded, dizzy, or as if you might pass out
- feel overheated or have chills
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How To Deal With An Anxiety Attack
In the immediate moments when an attack is occurring, there are several steps a person can take to try to calm themselves down. These include:
- Recognize an attack is occurring and trying to remember that the symptoms will pass
- Breathe deeply to stop or calm hyperventilation and subsequently slow your heart rate
- Relax muscles to release some of the feelings of tension from your body and help you regain control
The person experiencing the attack may feel like they are going to die and request medical assistance. Severe anxiety attacks often result in trips to the emergency room, where the person experiencing the attack can get the help they need.
In many cases, anxiety attacks occur in response to certain situations or perceived threats. Avoiding these triggers can help reduce the chance of having an attack, but may not be feasible if the trigger is present in your everyday life. If perceived anxiety attacks are brought on by certain triggers, there may be an underlying anxiety disorder that needs to be addressed. Therapy or medications can be very helpful in dealing with an anxiety disorder.
There are things that can be done to avoid another anxiety attack. Some of them include:
If you are experiencing anxiety attacks or panic attacks that are frequent and debilitating, and you have turned to substances to cope, The Recovery Village can help. To learn more about treatment for anxiety and addiction, to speak with a representative.
Causes Or Risk Factors Of Anxiety Disorder
Although there are no clear-cut causes of anxiety disorders, some factors contribute to their development. Also, there are certain conditions and things that can potentially increase the chance of you developing an anxiety disorder. The factors determine which form of anxiety disorder you develop. Meanwhile, some of these risk factors are avoidable others are not.
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What Should I Do If I Am Having An Anxiety Attack
If you think you might be having an anxiety attack, the first step to handling it is to recognize that you are having one. This is why knowing about triggers and symptoms of an attack is important in the long-run. Once you can identify that youre having an anxiety attack, you can carry out steps to help you cope with it.
After recognizing that you are having an anxiety attack or are about to have one, you should take deep breaths. Deep breaths can help prevent hyperventilation and slow a racing heartbeat. Try to relax your muscles at this time and dont tense up too much. By taking deep breaths and allowing your muscles to be loose, you can encourage your body to be more relaxed and decrease the feeling of losing control.
Because anxiety attacks happen in response to a certain situation or circumstance, removing yourself from that situation, if possible, can be helpful in moving past the symptoms of an attack. Symptoms usually subside once the stressor has been removed.
Overall, the most important idea in helping yourself during an anxiety attack is to try a variety of techniques to keep yourself calm. Taking deep breaths is one of the most widely used relaxation techniques. It is also useful to take some time to understand how you respond to anxiety and develop ways to lower anxiety and promote calm.
After an attack has passed, take some time to reflect on any circumstances or stressors you think could have been triggered.
The Difference Between An Anxiety Attack And A Panic Attack
Once again, anxiety attack is not a clinical term. It’s a term used to describe periods of more intense anxiety that go beyond traditional anxiety experiences.
That differs from the term panic attack. Panic attacks are severe anxiety attacks like what is described above – attacks that are often so disabling that many people struggle to cope with them and develop panic disorder, health anxiety, and possibly agoraphobia.
Traditionally, the term “anxiety attack” is used to discuss weaker versions of panic attacks. If you have multiple panic attacks, you have panic disorder. Anxiety attacks can affect anyone – even those without panic disorder or an anxiety disorder – and so the term is used to encompass all of these types of attacks.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll discuss these types of anxiety attacks as the weaker version of a panic attack. But in life, people do use the two terms somewhat interchangeably, and both are related to the same feelings of doom, along with relevant symptoms.
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