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Why Do Anxiety Attacks Happen Out Of The Blue

Types Of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety attacks out of the blue

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.

Panic disorder

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.

Signs And Symptoms Of Panic Disorder

While many people experience just one or two panic attacks without further episodes or complicationsand theres little reason to worry if thats yousome people go on to develop panic disorder. Panic disorder is characterized by repeated panic attacks, combined with major changes in behavior or persistent anxiety over having further attacks.

You may be suffering from panic disorder if you:

  • Experience frequent, unexpected panic attacks that arent tied to a specific situation
  • Worry a lot about having another panic attack
  • Are behaving differently because of the panic attacks, such as avoiding places where youve previously panicked

While a single panic attack may only last a few minutes, the effects of the experience can leave a lasting imprint. If you have panic disorder, the recurrent panic attacks take an emotional toll. The memory of the intense fear and terror that you felt during the attacks can negatively impact your self-confidence and cause serious disruption to your everyday life. Eventually, this leads to the following panic disorder symptoms:

Anticipatory anxiety Instead of feeling relaxed and like your normal self in between panic attacks, you feel anxious and tense. This anxiety stems from a fear of having future panic attacks. This fear of fear is present most of the time, and can be extremely disabling.

Are There Effective Techniques For Managing Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are so distressing that they generate the impulse to run from the fear. That feels right. But expertssome having faced their own bouts of anxietycontend that only magnifies the problem. It never allows you to habituate to the fear and realize not only that it is a false alarm but that you can actually cope with itand mitigate it. Better to lean into the fear and ride it out, by exploring itthat is, to react to it with curiosity. The goal is not to lessen the anxietyalthough that may happenbut to become an observer of your own experience and try to describe it. What thoughts are you having? What body sensations? Name them. What is your fear urging you to do?

That is a rational approach. It is also possible to bypass rationality and approach the overactivation directly, by turning on the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system jump-starts the stress response. The parasympathetic nerves put the brakes on that response. Increasing the length of exhalationseven in the middle of a panic attackcan activate the parasympathetic nerve, slow down your heart rate, and ease body tension. To counter the sense of being out of control that adds to the panic, it also helps to anchor yourself in the tangible worldby touching the surfaces around youa wall, a chair.

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Medical Conditions Which Can Cause Waves Of Anxiety

Its important that your doctor or other health professional rules out any other problems you may have, such as:

  • Thyroid disorder
  • Heart disease
  • Digestive-tract disorders
  • These conditions can also cause you to suffer from anxiety, and anti-anxiety medication would absolutely not be necessary. Indeed, long-term it may make the problem much worse. Id be delighted, therefore, to show you how you can help yourself. So read on!

    Make The Necessary Life

    Why Am I Panicking in My Sleep?  Cleveland Clinic

    Your anxiety is much less likely to rear its ugly head in the future if you commit to making lifestyle changes that protect your body, mind and environment from damage.

    Now Im going to refer you to my page on how to get over a nervous breakdown.

    I wrote that article for people who are on the far end of the scale with their anxiety theyve had a complete burn-out.

    They may or may not have previously suffered from excessive stress or anxiety, but the advice for you is the same as it is for them.

    Be sure to also visit my article on how to treat anxiety symptoms.

    Next enlist your partners support

    Also Check: Why Do I Have Anxiety In The Morning

    Treatment Of Anxiety And Panic

    There is plenty that can be done for people who have problems with anxiety and panic.

    Treatment can include:

    Getting professional support is always a good idea. Its important to find the right health professional for you. And there are plenty of online self-help programs, support and ways to get therapy, too.

    It’s As If A Vice Is Squeezing Me

    Anita Lesko, 61, Pensacola, Fla.

    Courtesy Anita Lesko

    Anita Lesko has always been a germaphobe, so her anxiety started to build when she first read about the coronavirus in early 2020.

    A certified registered nurse anesthetist , Lesko knew she was at higher risk of exposure because of her job administering anesthesia to patients before surgery. When she began hearing about the nationwide lack of personal protective equipment for health-care workers, Lesko really began to worry.

    “The prospect of going to work, getting exposed and ending up on a ventilator or dead that’s what pushed me over the edge, she says.

    One morning in March, when she was between patients at the hospital, Lesko developed a deep feeling of impending doom. She began to hyperventilate, her heart started racing and she broke out in a sweat. Pressure began building in her chest.

    “I got a gripping sensation in my whole chest and throat area, as if a vice was squeezing me, she said. Then I started shaking literally to the core of my body.

    Lesko asked to leave early and fled to her car. She collapsed into the driver’s seat and burst into tears.

    “I was just sitting there trying to talk myself out of it, and trying to make myself breathe normally, she recalls.

    It took about 30 minutes before she was calm enough to drive. When Lesko got home, she was so exhausted she had to sleep for a few hours before she could do anything.

    Also Check: How To Manage Anger And Anxiety

    Signs And Symptoms Of Anxiety Attack

    Anxiety attacks can happen out of nowhere or gradually build into an overwhelming sense of fear and panic. They often get confused with panic attacks, and some symptoms do overlap. But anxiety attacks are different and have different indicators. It’s important to distinguish common anxiety symptoms and signs of an anxiety attack.

    Common anxiety symptoms include:

    • Difficulty controlling worry
    • Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety

    Anxiety attacks are a build-up of common anxiety symptoms and are intensified episodes of panic or fear. They usually peak within 10 minutes and should not last more than 30 minutes. The symptoms of an anxiety attack are:

    Surge of overwhelming panic

    You may feel like you are in danger or something bad is going to happen. This will occur out of nowhere, which may increase your feeling of panic or impending doom.

    Feeling of losing control

    Adding to the feeling of panic, you may feel like you are losing control of yourself or your surroundings.

    Chest pain or heart palpitations

    Anxiety attacks have physical symptoms like an increased heart rate, which can make you think you’re having a heart attack. The increased heart rate should last no more than 30 minutes, usually subsiding in 10 minutes.

    Trouble breathing

    The feeling of panic and increased heart rate may make you feel like you can’t breathe or are choking. You may also start to hyperventilate if you are gasping for breath.

    Hot flashes or chills


    A detached feeling from reality

    What Helps To Manage Panic Attacks

    The Most SURPRISING Way to STOP Panic Attacks: Interoceptive Exposure | Dr. Rami Nader

    Panic attacks can be frightening, but there are things you can do to help yourself cope. It could help to print off these tips, or write them down, and keep them somewhere easy to find.

    During a panic attack:

    • Focus on your breathing. It can help to concentrate on breathing slowly in and out while counting to five.
    • Stamp on the spot. Some people find this helps control their breathing.
    • Focus on your senses. For example, taste mint-flavoured sweets or gum, or touch or cuddle something soft.
    • Try grounding techniques. Grounding techniques can help you feel more in control. They’re especially useful if you experience dissociation during panic attacks. See our page on self-care for dissociation for more information on grounding techniques.

    After a panic attack:

    • Think about self-care. It’s important to pay attention to what your body needs after you’ve had a panic attack. For example, you might need to rest somewhere quietly, or eat or drink something.
    • Tell someone you trust. If you feel able to, it could help to let someone know you’ve had a panic attack. It could be particularly helpful to mention how they might notice if you’re having another one, and how you’d like them to help you.

    See our pages on self-care for anxiety and treatments for anxiety for more information on what could help.

    Read Also: What Medicine Is Given For Anxiety

    What Is A Panic Attack

    A panic attack is an intense wave of fear characterized by its unexpectedness and debilitating, immobilizing intensity. Your heart pounds, you cant breathe, and you may feel like youre dying or going crazy. Panic attacks often strike out of the blue, without any warning, and sometimes with no clear trigger. They may even occur when youre relaxed or asleep.

    A panic attack may be a one-time occurrence, although many people experience repeat episodes. Recurrent panic attacks are often triggered by a specific situation, such as crossing a bridge or speaking in publicespecially if that situation has caused a panic attack before. Usually, the panic-inducing situation is one in which you feel endangered and unable to escape, triggering the bodys fight-or-flight response.

    You may experience one or more panic attacks, yet be otherwise perfectly happy and healthy. Or your panic attacks may occur as part of another disorder, such as panic disorder, social phobia, or depression. Regardless of the cause, panic attacks are treatable. There are strategies you can use to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of panic, regain your confidence, and take back control of your life.

    Paulas story

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    Anxiety Attack Vs Panic Attack: Whats The Difference

    Many people use the terms anxiety attack and panic attack interchangeable, but in reality, they represent two different experiences. The DSM-5 uses the term panic attack to describe the hallmark features of panic disorder or panic attacks that occur as a result of another mental disorder. To be considered a panic attack, four or more of the symptoms outlined in the DSM-5 must be present.

    In contrast, the term anxiety attack is not a specifier outlined in the DSM-5. Rather, anxiety is used to describe a core feature of multiple different anxiety disorders. The culmination of symptoms that result from being in a state of anxietysuch as restlessness, shortness of breath, increased heart rate, and difficulty concentratingmay feel like an attack, but are generally less intense than those experienced at the height of a panic attack.

    Given that anxiety attacks arent specifically outlined as a diagnosis in the DSM-5, the usage of the word is open to interpretation and different individuals may use it in varying ways and circumstances. For one person, an anxiety attack might be overthinking about a specific worry to the extent that they are unable to concentrate on anything else for another, anxiety attack might refer to sweating and shortness of breath when faced with a certain situation.

    Also Check: How Can You Get Over Anxiety

    Common Signs And Symptoms Of Anxiety

    Sufferers often

  • are particularly sensitive to what other people think of them.
  • worry excessively constantly mulling over the negative outcomes of the what ifs almost against their will.
  • feel frighteningly out of control of their feelings.
  • can cry for no reason.
  • experience anticipatory anxiety worrying excessively long before and about a particular event or situation.
  • tend to avoid conflict situations so as not to have to battle, both with themselves and those around them.
  • make choices based on fear, not their true wants and dreams.
  • have all kinds of unusual what they might call silly fears in other peoples eyes as well as their own.
  • suffer from sleeplessness, which affects their mood and makes ordinary tasks the following day challenging, leading to poor health and even more worries.
  • feel guilty for the impact of their anxious behaviour on their partners, childrens and even friends lives.
  • feel at times ashamed of themselves.
  • Anyone suffering from anxiety is, in my eyes, courageous they have nothing to be ashamed of.

    I Think My Partner Has Anxiety What Should I Do

    Why Does MS Happen All of a Sudden?

    People with anxiety often know that they are feeling anxious all the time. As you will know, different people react differently to personal feedback and when it comes to addressing anxiety, quite often, partners can aggravate the situation despite their good intentions.

    Here are a few tips to show that you care and are empathetic to their feelings of anxiety:

    Recommended Reading: How To Reduce Test Anxiety

    What Heart Palpitations Tell You About Your Anxiety

    Heart palpitations can affect anyone with anxiety. They’re both a symptom and a cause of anxiety, and they are especially common in those that suffer from panic attacks.

    Heart palpitations can be caused by anxiety. At other times, however, they may occur for no particular reason and then go on to cause subsequent anxiety. Palpitations are a confusing and potentially distressing event and people may erroneously assume that something is terribly wrong with their heart.

    Panic Attacks That Strike Out Of The Blue Could Be This Diagnosis

    The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that around 6 million people are currently living with a panic disorder. While panic disorders also involve other issues and symptoms, one of the biggest markers is experiencing panic attacks. Having a panic attack, or even a few, throughout the course of your life doesnt necessarily indicate that you have a panic disorder, but if you deal with panic attacks frequently, heres what you need to know.

    Also Check: How To Know If You Have An Anxiety Disorder

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