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.
What Do Anxiety Feel Like
In simple terms, anxiety is the natural response of the individuals body to stress, risk, or danger. It comes in the form of a fretful and jittery response after receiving a mail that youll be the first to deliver a paper in your first-ever public presentation. What about the nervous feeling of going for a job interview in a much-coveted oil firm, or having to stand in front of a top-management panel to answer a query?
These feelings are both normal and natural responses of the body to events. While these feelings may be unpleasant, they also have a way of inspiring confidence and motivating you to dress, perform, or speak better. Overall, ordinary anxiety improves the individual to become a better person in behavior, speech, appearance, as well as in managing stress, relationships, and expectations.
Behavioral Symptoms Of Social Anxiety
The behavioral symptoms of social anxiety disorder are those things that people do or dont do when they have this problem. Most commonly, people with social anxiety disorder will avoid situations that cause them anxiety. This avoidance may be obvious, such as walking out in the middle of delivering a speech, or less obvious, such as spacing out during a conversation or a party. In each case, the person with social anxiety disorder seeks to relieve the anxiety that they feel by escaping from the situation.
Lily has a tendency to avoid situations that require her to be social or speak in front of others. She has few friends and has never had a boyfriend. She left high school without finishing her diploma and hasnt held a job for more than a few weeks. She lives at home with her parents and fears what the future holds for her. When she is forced to go to a party or gathering, she uses alcohol to cope or says as little as possible to avoid drawing attention to herself or looking like a fool. If she cant drink to cope, she leaves these gatherings early when her anxiety becomes overwhelming.
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When Does It Happen
Anyone with social anxiety disorder can experience it in different ways. But here are some common situations that people tend to have trouble with:
- Talking to strangers
- Eating in front of other people
- Going to school or work
- Starting conversations
Some of these situations might not cause a problem for you. For example, giving a speech may be easy, but going to a party might be a nightmare. Or you could be great at one-on-one conversations but not at stepping into a crowded classroom.
All socially anxious people have different reasons for dreading certain situations. But in general, itâs an overwhelming fear of:
- Being judged by others in social situations
- Being embarrassed or humiliated — and showing it by blushing, sweating, or shaking
- Accidentally offending someone
- Being the center of attention
Anxiety Attacks Are Overwhelming And Frightening Learn What An Anxiety Attack Feels Like And What To Do In The Event That One Occurs
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Although an anxiety attack is not a clinically diagnosed condition, the term is often used to describe an episode of overwhelming anxiety that can be triggered by fear or apparent threat. The term anxiety attack is often confused with the term panic attack, which is a sudden episode of extreme fear that can result in physical reactions. They are uncontrollable and disabling. The feeling can be so intense that the person experiencing it may feel like they cant breathe or are going to die.
What some people may label as an anxiety attack may be the manifestation of an anxiety disorder or a reaction to a current or impending circumstance that causes anxiety. Knowing how to identify and manage anxiety can help treat the condition.
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What Does Anxiety Attack Mean
Anxiety attacks often have triggers, although they can be triggered by nothing at all. Some people experience anxiety attacks during periods of intense anxiety, but many others experience them “out of nowhere,” usually as a response to a physical sensation. For example, it’s not uncommon to have your first anxiety attack simply because your heartbeat speeds up, because anxiety has caused you to be hypersensitive to these changes.
The causes of anxiety attacks are everything from severe stress to hyperventilation to a need to regain control. It differs for different people, which is why treating it has a great deal to do with identifying triggers. Once you’ve experienced an anxiety attack, the fear of another anxiety attack may actually trigger an attack, because those that are afraid of getting a panic attack again often pay too much attention to their own body, and react to any changes in sensations.
What Anxiety Feels Like & Why It Happens
Generally speaking, we all have a lot going on in our lives: School, work, family, finances, health, relationships, friendships. And while your specific priorities may differ from someone else’s as well as shift over time the one prevailing constant we all seem to be bound to is that there’s almost always something to stress about or worry over.
“The various situations and events happening in your life greatly affect your overall mood. So when something is causing you to feel stressed or worried, it can impact your entire life from personal to interpersonal to professional,” says Dr. Ali Sawal, primary care practitioner at Houston Methodist.
And while anxiety may seem like some amorphous state-of-mind that you’re either prone to experiencing or you’re not, you may be surprised to find that anxiety is much more common than you think.
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Do I Have An Anxiety Disorder
If you identify with any of the following seven signs and symptoms, and they just wont go away, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder:
What Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder
With GAD, you may feel extreme and unrealistic worry and tension even if theres nothing to trigger these feelings. Most days, you may worry a lot about various topics, including health, work, school and relationships. You may feel that the worry continues from one thing to the next.
Physical symptoms of GAD can include restlessness, difficulty concentrating and sleeping problems.
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Here Are Some Of My Favorite Social Anxiety Tools
Thanks for reading! I hope you found some helpful tips. Since this site is about social anxiety, I wanted to also share some tools I use that I hope youll find helpful. Some of these are affiliate links, so if you decide to try them, Ill earn a commission. However, I only recommend things I have used myself and would recommend to a friend or family member.
Online Therapy: For online therapy, I have personally used and like the service offered by Betterhelp. It’s easy to get started from the comfort of your home. You’ll even get a discount on your first month of therapy when you use my link.
Doctor Visits: For doctor visits, Web Doctors offers convenient online appointments.
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Social Anxiety Masterclass: The Social Anxiety Masterclass is my signature course where I walk you through everything I know about how to manage social anxiety. If you’re not ready to enroll in the course, be sure to to hear about special deals!
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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What Should You Do When Anxiety Attacks
While some symptoms build up and persist over time, symptoms of anxiety can also “attack” often referred to as a panic attack.
“A panic attack comes with intense symptoms that can often be mistaken for symptoms of a heart attack,” says Dr. Sawal. “Symptoms of a panic attack include a racing heartbeat, trembling or shaking, shortness of breath and chest pain.”
If you know that what you’re experiencing is a panic attack, Dr. Sawal recommends the following:
- Remove yourself from the source of your panic attack
- Engage in deep breathing exercises and positive self-talk
- Take steps to address why you are anxious to help prevent future panic attacks
But, if you’re not sure that what you’re experiencing is a panic attack and you’re experiencing chest pain, it’s critical that you talk to your doctor.
“Both anxiety and chest pain can be a sign of something more serious, and your doctor will need to confirm that your symptoms aren’t caused by an underlying medical condition,” adds Dr. Sawal.
Treatment For Depression Vs Anxiety
Treatment for depression and anxiety include medication, therapy, and lifestyle modifications to improve overall wellness. Possible options for therapy are cognitive-behavioral therapy , interpersonal therapy, and psychodynamic therapy. Generally, a blended treatment approach such as setting goals, taking medication, and participating in talk therapy is most effective.1
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How High Functioning Is Determined
There is little research on the topic of high functioning anxiety, but we do know that there is an optimal level of anxiety that fuels performance .
Based on this concept, your ability to function at a higher level might be increased if you had a mild to moderate level of anxiety .
IQ may also play a role in how well people with anxiety function in work and life. A 2005 study found that financial managers with high levels of anxiety made the best money managersas long as they also had a high IQ.
Like Danger Is Around Every Corner
When dealing with severe anxiety, it may feel like there dangerous lurking behind every corner. You may feel fidgety, tense, and irritable. Your mind is always running the worse case possibilities.
When anxiety attacks, it feels like there is nothing you can do. You feel frozen in your step, unable to change the fear that something awful is about to happen.
Again, practice meditation to alleviate your mind from fear. Focus on your breathing to slowly move back into a calm state.
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Other Effects Of Anxiety
Anxiety symptoms can last for a long time, or come and go. You might find you have difficulty with day-to-day parts of your life, including:
- looking after yourself
- trying new things
- simply enjoying your leisure time.
In some cases anxiety can have a serious impact on your ability to work. See our pages on how to be mentally healthy at work for information on how to cope. Our legal pages on discrimination at work can provide information about your rights in the workplace.
If you drive you may have to tell the DVLA if you have an anxiety disorder. For information on your right to drive, including when and how to contact the DVLA, see our legal pages on fitness to drive.
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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Effects Of Anxiety On Your Mind
These can include:
- feeling tense, nervous or unable to relax
- having a sense of dread, or fearing the worst
- feeling like the world is speeding up or slowing down
- feeling like other people can see you’re anxious and are looking at you
- feeling like you can’t stop worrying, or that bad things will happen if you stop worrying
- worrying about anxiety itself, for example worrying about when panic attacks might happen
- wanting lots of reassurance from other people or worrying that people are angry or upset with you
- worrying that you’re losing touch with reality
- low mood and depression
- rumination thinking a lot about bad experiences, or thinking over a situation again and again
- depersonalisation a type of dissociation where you feel disconnected from your mind or body, or like you are a character that you are watching in a film
- derealisation another type of dissociation where you feel disconnected from the world around you, or like the world isn’t real
- worrying a lot about things that might happen in the future you can read more about these sorts of worries on the Anxiety UK website.
“I could feel all these physical symptoms building inside me, literally filling every part of my body until I felt completely light-headed and disembodied.”
Anxiety and physical health problems
Having a physical illness or disability can also make you feel stressed and anxious, so it might sometimes feel like your anxiety problems and physical health problems are part of a vicious circle.
What Else Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider
If you have an anxiety disorder, ask your provider:
- Whats the best treatment for me?
- Do I need medication? What type?
- How long should I take medication?
- What type of psychotherapy will work best?
- What else can I do to manage my symptoms?
- What other conditions am I at risk for?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
An anxiety disorder can make it difficult to get through your day. Anxiety disorder symptoms include feelings of nervousness, panic and fear. You may also have physical symptoms such as sweating and a rapid heartbeat. But you dont need to live like this. Several effective anxiety disorder treatments are available. Talk to your healthcare provider to figure out your diagnosis and the best treatment plan. Often, treatment combines medications and therapy. Anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants, together with CBT, can help you feel your best.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/17/2020.
Will Anxiety Go Away On Its Own
“Anxiety and its symptoms resolve only when the underlying cause of the anxiety is addressed,” says Dr. Sawal. “In some cases, a person may take control of the situation or circumstance causing their anxiety on their own sometimes without even knowing it.”
For instance, maybe anxiety stemming from out-of-control debt was alleviated by taking actionable steps towards reducing this debt and gaining better financial control.
“Other times, however, a person may struggle to either identify and/or address his or her anxiety. This is when talking to your doctor can help,” adds Dr. Sawal.
Your doctor has many tools at his or her disposal to help diagnose and address anxiety. He or she can refer you to a behavioral therapy specialist, such as a therapist or psychologist, or prescribe medications that can help reduce your anxiety.
“Studies have shown both behavioral therapy and medications to be beneficial in addressing anxiety, and these studies also suggest that the two are even more powerful when combined together,” explains Dr. Sawal. “Both aren’t always needed lifelong typically only for short periods of time when things are particularly chaotic or stressful for you.”