What Is An Anxiety Attack
An anxiety attack is a feeling of overwhelming apprehension, worry, distress, or fear. For many people, an anxiety attack builds slowly. It may worsen as a stressful event approaches.
Anxiety attacks can vary greatly, and symptoms may differ among individuals. Thats because the many symptoms of anxiety dont happen to everyone, and they can change over time.
Common symptoms of an anxiety attack include:
- feeling faint or dizzy
Researchers are not sure of the exact cause of anxiety. But, its likely a combination of factors play a role. These include genetic and environmental factors, as well as brain chemistry.
In addition, researchers believe that the areas of the brain responsible for controlling fear may be impacted.
Current research of anxiety is taking a deeper look at the parts of the brain that are involved with anxiety. Learn more about what the researchers are finding.
Try An Herbal Supplement
If you really feel like trying something medicinal, but aren’t yet ready to broach the topic of medication with your doctor or psychiatrist, consider trying an herbal supplement from your drug store.
There are many herbal supplements that are used in managing anxiety however, it is important to know that herbal supplements are not regulated by the United States Food & Drug Administration the same way that traditional medications are evaluated. Be sure to read about any cautions, warnings or medication interactions before taking an herbal supplement.
How Much Worrying Is Too Much
Worries, doubts, and anxieties are a normal part of life. Its natural to worry about an unpaid bill, an upcoming job interview, or a first date. But normal worry becomes excessive when its persistent and uncontrollable. You worry every day about what ifs and worst-case scenarios, you cant get anxious thoughts out of your head, and it interferes with your daily life.
Constant worrying, negative thinking, and always expecting the worst can take a toll on your emotional and physical health. It can sap your emotional strength, leave you feeling restless and jumpy, cause insomnia, headaches, stomach problems, and muscle tension, and make it difficult to concentrate at work or school. You may take your negative feelings out on the people closest to you, self-medicate with alcohol or drugs, or try to distract yourself by zoning out in front of screens. Chronic worrying can also be a major symptom of Generalized Anxiety Disorder , a common anxiety disorder that involves tension, nervousness, and a general feeling of unease that colors your whole life.
If youre plagued by exaggerated worry and tension, there are steps you can take to turn off anxious thoughts. Chronic worrying is a mental habit that can be broken. You can train your brain to stay calm and look at life from a more balanced, less fearful perspective.
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Make One Little Change
Sometimes we can get caught up thinking that the changes that we need to make to get out of a rut need to be big. Make one little change and see if it has ripple effects in your life.
The change could be as small as watching the news every evening to keep up on current events and have more to say during small talk.
Write Down Your Thoughts
Writing down whats making you anxious gets it out of your head and can make it less daunting.
These relaxation tricks are particularly helpful for those who experience anxiety sporadically. They may also work well with someone who has generalized anxiety disorder when theyre in a bind too!
However, if you suspect you have GAD, quick coping methods shouldnt be the only kind of treatment you employ. Youll want to find long-term strategies to help lessen the severity of symptoms and even prevent them from happening.
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When Is My Anxiety Harmful
Identifying what sort of anxiety youre dealing with can be somewhat challenging because how ones body reacts to perceived danger can be entirely different compared to another person.
Its likely you heard anxiety as a blanket term for that general feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease. Its often a feeling grown in response to an upcoming event that has an uncertain outcome.
Every person deals with it at one time or another, because its part of our brains response to a perceived danger even if that danger isnt real.
That said, there are times anxiety can get serious and turn into anxiety attacks that initially feel manageable and then gradually build up over a few hours.
What Are Anxiety Disorders
Its normal to feel anxious about moving to a new place, starting a new job, or taking a test. This type of anxiety is unpleasant, but it may motivate you to work harder and to do a better job. Ordinary anxiety is a feeling that comes and goes, but does not interfere with your everyday life.
In the case of an anxiety disorder, the feeling of fear may be with you all the time. It is intense and sometimes debilitating.
This type of anxiety may cause you to stop doing things you enjoy. In extreme cases, it may prevent you from entering an elevator, crossing the street, or even leaving your home. If left untreated, the anxiety will keep getting worse.
Anxiety disorders are the most common form of emotional disorder and can affect anyone at any age. According to the American Psychiatric Association, women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
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Surround Yourself With Positive People
If at all possible, try to spend more time with positive people people who love you, believe in you, and see the beauty in who you are despite your social anxiety.
Spending time with these people will make you feel good and help you to weather any rough times as you try to make changes in your life.
Stay In Your Time Zone
Anxiety is a future-oriented state of mind. So instead of worrying about whatâs going to happen, âreel yourself back to the present,â says Tamar Chansky, Ph.D., a psychologist and author of Freeing Yourself from Anxiety. Ask yourself: Whatâs happening right now? Am I safe? Is there something I need to do right now? If not, make an âappointmentâ to check in with yourself later in the day to revisit your worries so those distant scenarios donât throw you off track, she says.
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Why Wont My Fear Go Away And Leave Me Feeling Normal Again
Fear may be a one-off feeling when you are faced with something unfamiliar.
But it can also be an everyday, long-lasting problem even if you cant put your finger on why. Some people feel a constant sense of anxiety all the time, without any particular trigger.
There are plenty of triggers for fear in everyday life, and you cant always work out exactly why you are frightened or how likely you are to be harmed. Even if you can see how out of proportion a fear is, the emotional part of your brain keeps sending danger signals to your body.
Sometimes you need mental and physical ways of tackling fear.
When Should I Go To The Emergency Room For An Anxiety Disorder
Symptoms of an anxiety disorder can resemble symptoms of a heart attack or another health emergency. If youre experiencing an anxiety attack for the first time, or youre concerned in any way about your health, call 911 or head to the nearest ER. A healthcare provider will check you for serious or life-threatening conditions.
If youre having an anxiety attack and unsure whether you should head to an ER or not, its better to go. Healthcare professionals can make sure youre OK and give you any necessary treatment.
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Can Foods Treat Anxiety
Medication and talk therapy are commonly used to treat anxiety. Lifestyle changes, like getting enough sleep and regular exercise, can also help. In addition, some research suggests the foods you eat may have a beneficial impact on your brain if you frequently experience anxiety.
These foods include:
Offer Support But Dont Take Over
Avoidance is a core feature of anxiety, so sometimes we may feel pulled to help out by doing things for our avoidant loved ones and inadvertently feed their avoidance. For instance, if your anxious roommate finds making phone calls incredibly stressful and you end up doing this for them, they never push through their avoidance.
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A good general principle to keep in mind is that support means helping someone to help themselves, not doing things for them, which includes virtually anything that stops short of actually doing it yourself. For example, you might offer to attend a first therapy session with your loved one if they set up the appointment. Or, if theyre not sure how to choose a therapist, you might brainstorm ways of doing that, but let them choose.
An exception might be when someones anxiety is accompanied by severe depression. If they cant get themselves out of bed, they may be so shut down that they temporarily need people to do whatever is needed to help them stay alive. Also, sometimes loved ones are so gripped by an anxiety disorder that theyre in pure survival mode and need more hands-on help to get things done. In less extreme circumstances, however, its best to offer support without taking over or overdoing the reassurance.
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What To Do During An Anxiety Attack
Once an anxiety attack begins, it can be difficult to stop it in its tracks as the physical effects are already in motion. What you can do is to try to make the symptoms less intense and stop it reaching its peak.
Understand why they happen
If you have a good idea of why they happen, how the stress response works and what it does to your body, a lot of the fear of the unknown automatically disappears.
Fear is one of the big reasons why anxiety attacks happen and this keeps the fear cycle going. If you can tell yourself that an anxiety attack is a normal response to your mind having perceived a threat and that it isnt anything to be overly concerned about health-wise, you can feel more in control of the situation and how you react.
Another important thing to recognise is that your anxiety attack will end. It wont keep going on indefinitely and the quicker you can calm yourself, the sooner it will start to decrease in intensity.
It can be hard to focus on anything other than how youre feeling during an anxiety attack and this can intensify symptoms.
If you can refocus your mind away from it, this can be a way to reduce the severity of your symptoms.
When you feel panic setting in, distracting yourself from it can stop you getting too caught up in your own mind.
Walk around a bit
This can be the last thing you feel like doing when youre shaky and panicky but if youre able to move around a bit, it can be a good way to cope with an anxiety attack.
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That said, a 2020 study in the journal “Psychological Science” found that older adults are less anxious than their younger counterparts these days. Despite being more at risk for complications of COVID-19, they report fewer negative emotions and better emotional stability overall.
But if you do have reentry fear, it’s important to take a step back and look at the roots of it. Is your anxiety related to the global pandemic or fear based on your own experience?
This psychology behind the anxiety is normal and may include:
- Fear of contracting the coronavirus
- Fear of going in public, since you wont know whos vaccinated
- Negative thoughts and worries about the future in general
- Social anxiety about having to be on or in-person again with friends, family and colleagues
- Avoiding public places or large crowds because youre scared of meeting or interacting with a lot of people
“By taking the time to reflect and have an idea of why you’re afraid, you can slowly begin to take the necessary steps to address it,” says Baty.
Gonzales-Berrios notes that since post-pandemic reentry anxiety is normal, people who have it “need to follow certain self-help tips to overcome the anxiety slowly and start living normally.”
Lots of people are experiencing the range of emotions and feelings that you are.
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Fill Your Plate With Anti
Science is discovering more about the gut-brain connection. Researchers often refer to the belly as the second brain, since about 95% of serotonin receptors are found in the lining of the gut. Science shows that foods containing certain vitamins and minerals may help reduce anxiety, so when youre thinking about natural ways to help anxiety, consider filling up on these:
- Leafy greens, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, which are rich in magnesium. Evidence suggests that magnesium may have a beneficial effect on anxiety.
- Oysters, liver, and egg yolks contain the mineral zinc, which has been linked to lower anxiety.
- Wild Alaskan salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may reduce anxiety.
- Turkey contains an amino acid called tryptophan, which the body needs to produce the neurotransmitter serotonin that helps regulate sleep and mood.
- Berries, apples, prunes, cherries, plums, broccoli, beets, and spices like ginger and turmeric are all high in antioxidants. Anxiety is thought to be correlated with lower levels. Artichokes and asparagus, which is widely used in Chinese medicine, are known for their anti-anxiety properties.
If you have anxiety, its a good idea to limit caffeine and alcohol both of which can aggravate symptoms.
How Are Anxiety Disorders Treated
You can check what treatment and care is recommended for anxiety disorders on the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence website.
NICE produce guidelines for how health professionals should treat certain conditions. NICE only provide guidelines for:
- Generalised anxiety disorder and panic disorder,
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder and body dysmorphic disorder ,
- Post-traumatic stress disorder , and
- Social anxiety disorder.
The NHS does not have to follow these recommendations. But they should have a good reason for not following them.
We have described some of the treatments for anxiety disorders below. The treatments you will be offered depend upon the type of anxiety disorder you are experiencing.
You can find more information about treatments for:
Monitoring your symptomsSome anxiety disorders, such as generalised anxiety disorder may get better by itself with no treatment at all. Or after education and advice from your doctor. Your doctor will monitor your symptoms to see if they improve. And they will talk to you about medications that you can get without a prescription. These are sometimes called over-the-counter medications.
Individual non-facilitated self helpThis involves working from a book or a computer program. You will be supported by a trained professional
Individual guided self-helpYou should:
Your learning should:
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