Are You Having An Anxiety Attack Or A Heart Attack
People who suffer from panic attacks often say their acute anxiety feels like a heart attack, as many of the symptoms can seem the same. Both conditions can be accompanied by shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, sweating, a pounding heartbeat, dizziness, and even physical weakness or temporary paralysis.
Perhaps most powerful, though, is the sense of dread that overshadows both events. The fear itself can lead to an increase in these symptoms.
To learn more about living a heart-healthy lifestyle and what to do when anxiety feels like a heart attack, contact UPMCs Heart and Vascular Institute today.
Panic Attacks And Panic Disorder
Panic disorder is characterized by repeated, unexpected panic attacks, as well as fear of experiencing another episode. Agoraphobia, the fear of being somewhere where escape or help would be difficult in the event of a panic attack, may also accompany a panic disorder. If you have agoraphobia, you are likely to avoid public places such as shopping malls, or confined spaces such as an airplane.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
Asking questions and providing information to your doctor or health care provider can improve your care. Talking with your doctor builds trust and leads to better results, quality, safety, and satisfaction. Visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website for tips at .
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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.
Focus On Your Senses And Surroundings
When you are having a panic attack, you can feel out of touch with things around you. One way you can feel back in touch with your surroundings is by picking out five things you can see, hear, taste, touch, or smell. This is called a grounding exercise. You can pick a couple for each sense, or focus on one sense, like finding five things that you can see. This can help you feel connected with your surroundings and in control.
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Stage : Age Associated Memory Impairment
This stage features occasional lapses of memory most frequently seen in:
- Forgetting where one has placed an object
- Forgetting names that were once very familiar
Oftentimes, this mild decline in memory is merely normal age-related cognitive decline, but it can also be one of the earliest signs of degenerative dementia. At this stage, signs are still virtually undetectable through clinical testing. Concern for early onset of dementia should arise with respect to other symptoms.
Phobias And Irrational Fears
A phobia is an unrealistic or exaggerated fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that in reality presents little to no danger. Common phobias include fear of animals , fear of flying, and fear of heights. In the case of a severe phobia, you might go to extreme lengths to avoid the object of your fear. Unfortunately, avoidance only strengthens the phobia.
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How To Handle A Panic Attack
It’s important not to let your fear of panic attacks control you.
Panic attacks always pass and the symptoms are not a sign of anything harmful happening. Tell yourself that anxiety is causing the symptoms you’re experiencing.
Ride out the attack. Try to keep doing things. If possible, don’t leave the situation until the anxiety has subsided.
Confront your fear. If you don’t run away from it, you’re giving yourself a chance to discover that the thing that you are fearful of happening is very unlikely to happen. Or be as bad as your anxiety predicts it will be.
As the anxiety begins to pass, start to focus on your surroundings and continue to do what you were doing before. Remind yourself, the thing you panicked would happen didn’t happen. Or wasn’t as bad as you thought it would be.
If you’re having a short, sudden panic attack, it can be helpful to have someone with you. They can reassure you that it will pass and the symptoms are nothing to worry about.
Causes Of Fear And Anxiety In Dogs
The onset of fear or anxiety issues in dogs can be prompted by a variety of things, from puppy socialization issues and age-related health conditions like dementia to traumatic experiences or genetics.
There is no catchall for the roots of these issues, but here are some of the most common causes of anxiety or fear in dogs:
Being forced into an unfamiliar and frightening experience
Being deprived of social and environmental exposure until 14 weeks of age
Phobias and panic: history of not being able to escape or get away from the stimulus causing the phobia and panic, such as being locked in crate
Any illness or painful physical condition increases anxiety and contributes to the development of fears, phobias and anxieties.
Aging changes associated with nervous system changes, as well as infectious disease and toxic conditions may lead to behavioral problems, including fears, phobias and anxieties.
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How To Cope With Panic Attacks
When you have had a panic attack, you might worry about if – or when – you are next going to have one. This can make everyday tasks like going to school, leaving the house or meeting up with friends much more difficult. But remember, you are not alone and there is support available to help you get through this. If you are worried about when you are next going to have a panic attack, here are some things that can help you cope.
Speak to someone you trust. If you are feeling anxious or worried that you might have a panic attack, talk to friends or family. They can help you take your mind off what is making you feel panicked and support you to find the help you need. If you are struggling to say how you are feeling, you can always write your thoughts down or put them in notes on your phone if you are planning to speak to a teacher or your GP.
If you are worried about having a panic attack at school, college, or university, speak to a teacher or a member of staff. They can work with you to help you with things like finding a safe space to take some time out if you are feeling anxious or panicked.
If you feel like youre struggling to cope with everyday tasks, speak to your GP. They can listen to how you are feeling and suggest different types of treatments like therapy or counselling to help you tackle your panic attacks.
What Are The Differences
Here are some of the features that distinguish them.
An anxiety attack, or anxiety:
- can have a specific trigger, such as an exam, workplace issues, a health issue, or a relationship problem
- is not a diagnosable condition
- is less severe than a panic attack
- usually develops gradually when a person feels anxious
- involves physical symptoms, such as a racing heart or knot in the stomach
A panic attack:
- often occurs suddenly and unexpectedly and last between a few minutes and an hour, although the negative impact may continue
The term anxiety attack is not listed in the American Psychological Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5th Edition .
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Treatment For Panic And Anxiety
Whether youre dealing with panic, persistent anxiety, or both, effective treatment is available. Some of the most common treatment options include therapy, prescription medications, and self-help strategies. You may decide to try one or a combination of these methods.
- Psychotherapy can help better you understand your symptoms, develop ways to manage them, work through past pain, determine your path for the future, and gain a clearer perspective that will allow for a more hopeful outlook.
- Medicationscan assist you in reducing your symptoms. They sometimes may only be needed for a short period of time to control symptoms while you work on the other strategies.
- Self-help techniques, such as breathing exercises and progressive relaxation, can be beneficial in allowing you to work through symptom management at your own pace.
What Do Panic Attacks Feel Like
During a panic attack, physical symptoms can build up very quickly. These can include:
- a pounding or racing heartbeat
- feeling faint, dizzy or light-headed
- feeling very hot or very cold
- sweating, trembling or shaking
- pain in your chest or abdomen
- struggling to breathe or feeling like you’re choking
- feeling like your legs are shaky or are turning to jelly
- feeling disconnected from your mind, body or surroundings, which are types of dissociation.
During a panic attack you might feel very afraid that you’re:
- losing control
- going to die.
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How To Tell The Difference Between Anxiety And A Medical Emergency
How can I know if my symptoms are caused by anxiety or a real medical condition/emergency, such as a heart attack, stroke, MS, or cancer?
Because there are many medical conditions that can cause anxiety-like sensations and symptoms, we recommend that you discuss all new, changing, persistent, and re-occurring symptoms with your doctor. If your doctor concludes that your symptoms are caused solely from anxiety and/or stress, you can be assured that there isnt another medical condition causing them. Generally, most doctors can easily tell the difference between anxiety and/or stress caused sensations and symptoms from those caused by other medical reasons – because other medical conditions/emergencies have sensations and symptoms that are unlike those caused by anxiety alone.
If you are uncertain about your doctors diagnosis, however, you may want to seek a second and even third opinion. But if all three opinions concur, you can feel confident that anxiety and/or stress is the cause of your symptoms and not some other medical or biological problem.
In this case, if symptoms appear, you can be confident that anxiety and/or stress is the cause, and nothing else.
Moreover, its wise to become familiar with your anxiety symptoms so that when they occur, you know they are anxiety related only. This knowledge can help you contain when they occur rather than reacting with fear and uncertainty.
What Are The Complications Of Panic Attacks
Panic attacks are highly treatable. Unfortunately, many people put off seeking help because theyre embarrassed. Untreated panic attacks or panic disorder can interfere with your ability to enjoy life. You may develop:
- Anticipatory anxiety: The possibility of having a panic attack triggers extreme anxiety.
- Phobias: A phobia is an extreme, unreasonable fear of something specific. For instance, acrophobia is a fear of heights, while claustrophobia is a fear of enclosed spaces.
- Agoraphobia: Approximately two-thirds of people with panic disorder develop agoraphobia. This anxiety disorder makes you afraid to be in places or situations where a panic attack might happen. The fear can become so extreme that you become too afraid to leave your house.
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What To Do When You Feel The Signs Of A Panic Attack Coming On
Panic attacks can be incredibly frightening. The intense feeling of anxiety can happen very quickly, and the physical symptoms of panic attacks can be so powerful that many people who experience them believe that they are having a heart attack, collapsing or even dying.
When you feel the signs of a panic attack coming on, it is important to know what you should do in the moment. Here, we provide recommendations on what to do when one does start.
If you regularly have panic attacks, its also important to recognise that there is support and treatment that can help you to control them and prevent them from happening in the future. In this article, we will also outline the support and treatment that is available at our Priory hospitals and wellbeing centres to help you to address your challenges and resume the fulfilling life you deserve.
How Are Panic Attacks Diagnosed
Serious health problems, such as heart disease, thyroid disease and respiratory problems, cause symptoms similar to panic attacks. Your healthcare provider may run tests to rule out a physical problem. If theres no physical cause, your provider may make a diagnosis based on your symptoms and risk factors.
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What Does It Mean To Be Diagnosed With Panic Disorder
Some people find that a diagnosis comes as a relief. They may have thought they had a medical condition such as a problem with their heart or lungs, and that their life was at risk, says Simon A. Rego, PsyD, chief psychologist at Montefiore Health System in New York City. Other patients have a hard time believing the diagnosis since their symptoms are real and yet they are being told they have a psychiatric disorder.
The diagnosis can be mistakenly taken to mean that it is all in their head, Rego says. The truth is that while the persons symptoms are real, the fears about them, such as that they are having a heart attack or going crazy, are often not accurate.
Panic Attacks I Turned My Mental Health Crisis Into A Mental Health Triumph
“Although it’s taken me a long time I have learned I am a strong person who has the potential to help others.”
You might find that you become scared of going out alone or to public places because you’re worried about having another panic attack. If this fear becomes very intense, it may be called agoraphobia. See our pages on types of phobia for more information.
“I felt like I couldn’t breathe, I just wanted to get out, to go somewhere else, but I couldn’t because I was on a train.”
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Should You See Your Doctor About Panic Attacks
A panic attack can make you feel like youre about to collapse or even die, but it’s usually harmless. However, in some cases, you may need medical advice to rule out an underlying physical cause.
Get medical advice if:
- your panic attack continues after doing 20 minutes of slow breathing
- you still feel unwell after your breathing returns to normal
- you still have a rapid or irregular heartbeat or chest pains after your panic attack
- you regularly have panic attacks, as this could be a sign that you have panic disorder