I Think I’m Having an Anxiety Attack: Signs and Symptoms

Anxiety disorder is one of the most common mental health problems in America today. It affects more than 40 million Americans. Most people with anxiety disorders don’t seek treatment because they think it will make them worse or that it is a waste of time. But there are many effective treatments available, including medications and therapy. Here’s what you need to know when you think to yourself, “I think I’m having an anxiety attack.”

How to Recognize an Anxiety Attack

Anxiety is normal, but if you experience frequent panic attacks, worry constantly about things that may never happen, feel tense or jittery all the time, or have trouble sleeping at night, you might be suffering from an anxiety disorder. There are several types of anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Recognizing what an anxiety attack looks like is the first step toward getting help. The following highlights common signs and symptoms of anxiety:

  • Feeling anxious, fearful, worried, uneasy, or panicked
  • Experiencing physical symptoms like breathing problems, sweating, trembling, shakiness, numbness, tingly sensations, hot flashes, or cold sweats
  • Not being able to think clearly
  • Being easily startled
  • Fearing that something bad will happen
  • Feeling restless or agitated
  • Having thoughts about death, dying, suicide, violence, accidents, disasters, or catastrophes
  • Thinking about the past or future too much
  • Worrying excessively about one’s health, family, finances, job, school, career, or relationships
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Feeling depressed, sad, lonely, empty, hopeless, worthless, guilty, ashamed, embarrassed, angry, frustrated, disappointed, hurt, confused, or out of control
  • Feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope

What is an Anxiety Attack?

Anxiety attacks are sudden episodes of intense fear, often accompanied by physical discomfort. They usually last less than 10 minutes. The cause of an anxiety attack is not known, but some experts believe that certain physical changes take place in the brain during an attack. These changes affect the way nerves communicate with each other, which causes feelings of extreme tension and apprehension.

Anxiety attacks can be triggered by a wide variety of factors, such as stress or other emotions, certain situations, and even physical sensations (such as heart palpitations). They may last for minutes to hours, but some can go on for days.

Anxiety Attack vs Panic Attack

There is a difference between having an anxiety attack and a panic attack. A panic attack is characterized by feelings of terror, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, dizziness, nausea, and/or sweating. People who suffer from panic attacks often describe their experiences as feeling trapped or going crazy. In contrast, anxiety attacks are caused by excessive worry, tension, or fearfulness.

The most common form of an anxiety attack is associated with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). GAD affects approximately 6 million Americans. It is also called “nervousness,” “anxiousness,” “worry,” “tension,” “stress,” “over-concern,” “hypervigilance,” “obsessive worrying,” “fearful thinking,” and “rumination.” 

Another type of anxiety attack is Agoraphobia. This is when people become afraid of places where they cannot escape quickly. For example, they would avoid leaving home because they could not drive far enough to reach safety. Agoraphobia is caused by a combination of factors including genetics, childhood trauma, and life events.

Other types of anxiety attacks are associated with:

  • Social Phobia
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Panic Disorder

What Can be Done to Prevent Anxiety Attacks?

The way you prevent anxiety attacks from happening is to learn how to manage them before they occur. If you know what triggers your anxiety attacks, you will be better prepared to deal with them. You can also use relaxation techniques to reduce the intensity of an attack if it occurs.

Other ways of preventing anxiety attacks include:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Take care of yourself physically
  • Don’t smoke
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Manage your stress levels
  • Learn to recognize signs of depression and anxiety
  • Talk about your fears and worries with someone you trust
  • Get professional help

Treating Anxiety Attacks in South Florida

It is time to stop letting anxiety dictate your life. You are capable of controlling your symptoms, so you can have the fulfilling and joyful life you deserve. Neuroscience Institute in West Palm Beach, FL is dedicated to helping you overcome your anxiety through evidence-based treatments. To learn more or to start working towards a better tomorrow, give us a call or visit our admissions page today.

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