An anxiety attack, also called a panic attack, is a brief period of acute fear that comes on suddenly. Symptoms may include trembling, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain, nausea, sweating, and a sensation of choking. Worst of all, sufferers of anxiety attacks often feel like they are about to die, pass out, “go mad”, do something embarrassing, or lose control of themselves.
An anxiety attack typically increases in intensity from one to ten minutes after it begins, then slowly begins to dissipate. The attack usually spontaneously resolves itself from fifteen minutes to an hour after onset, but it can sometimes go on for hours. Many individuals experiencing an anxiety attack, especially for the first time, often falsely believe that they are having a heart attack.
While it is typically anxiety attacks that are confused with more serious medical conditions, it is important to see a doctor to ascertain that an underlying condition is not the cause.
What Is Going On With My Body When I Experience an Attack?
An anxiety attack is simply a false “fight or flight” response, an instinctive, physical, and emotional response that originated from our prehistoric ancestors, who needed to be able to mobilize quickly in the face of physical danger. When this protective reaction is rightly or wrongly set off, your body physically prepares itself to fight or flee. For instance, your heart rate quickens to better facilitate the pumping of blood to your muscles. What makes this disease unpleasant is that they come on in the absence of any actual danger.
It is important to realize that while an attack can be frightening, it is not dangerous. An anxiety attack can’t, for example, cause a heart attack. Dispelling the worry that often surrounds anxiety attacks can decrease the likelihood that they will reoccur.
Reduce Your Stress
No one really knows what causes an anxiety attack to occur unexpectedly, in the absence of any perceived or actual threat. However, we do know that this attacks are linked to mounting stress. For this reason, reducing your stress levels can help avert future attacks.
Exercise is a great tool to battle stress. You can add any physical activity to your daily routine, such as dancing, swimming, weight lifting, racquetball, basketball, or running. It’s a good idea to find an activity you like, so that you are more likely to stick with it consistently. Ask a friend to participate in this activity with you, as socializing can make any activity more enjoyable.
Caffeine can increase your stress by making your body more likely to release adrenaline, the stress hormone. Try to limit, if not eliminate, your caffeine intake.
Get More Rest
Lack of adequate sleep can increase stress hormones. Keeping your room dark and quiet during sleep hours, easing anxiety with a suitable blanket, scheduling your exercise earlier in the day rather than in the evening, making an effort to relax and wind down before bed, and avoiding large meals before bedtime can help you achieve better sleep.