symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks

Symptoms of Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Did you know that more than 19% of people in the United States alone suffer from an anxiety disorder? Anxiety can vary in severity from mild to debilitating. Understanding how the symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks manifest can help you to manage it.

Many people believe that panic and anxiety attacks are the same thing, they’re not. Knowing the difference between a panic attack and anxiety, you’ll better be able to know what action to take to soothe the attack or manage symptoms as soon as possible. If you don’t know the difference between anxiety and panic attacks keep reading more below to find your answers.

What Is Anxiety?

First, anxiety is a natural response of your nervous system to indicators of stress. Everyone has experienced this at one time or another. Anxiety can also become a chronic health issue over time. Generalized anxiety disorder is one of the most common forms of anxiety. It involves feeling anxious on a daily basis although the person with this condition may not be able to describe what exactly is making them anxious.

More often than not, people with anxiety disorders feel anxiety over things that normally would not produce any feeling of anxiety. For example, people with social anxiety may feel fearful or nervous about going to the grocery store and having to interact with the cashier or other people in the store. For those without an anxiety disorder, going to the grocery store would not cause this level of discomfort and fear.

In most cases, people with anxiety disorders try to avoid situations that make them anxious. This might make them more withdrawn than ordinary people and sometimes, this behavior can even harm relationships and prevent these people from taking important life opportunities. However, when people with anxiety force themselves to enter situations that make them uncomfortable, they may end up experiencing a panic attack.

Symptoms of Anxiety

The most common and often disguised symptom of anxiety is uncontrollable worry, including self doubt. Someone with anxiety may feel they have to imagine all the things that might go wrong in order to be prepared, or how they might do something wrong. Spending time in cycles of worry and self doubt can lead to an anxiety attack. An anxiety attack involves feelings of fear, apprehension and worry before and during a situation. For example, if a person with social anxiety has to go to a party, they may experience an anxiety attack and start to feel fearful about the event. There are many physical symptoms that may occur as a result.

Anxiety attacks may include heart palpitations, dry mouth, and sweating. Some people may even experience chills, shaking, nausea, and fainting. The distress someone might feel from these symptoms often stops the person from going through with a situation. For instance, a person with social anxiety may agree to attend a party but then back out at the last minute.

What Is a Panic Attack?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM-5 recognizes the occurrence of panic attacks in people with anxiety, but not anxiety attacks. For that reason, it is easier to identify when someone is having a panic attack rather than an anxiety attack. However, there is a clear difference between panic attacks and anxiety attacks.

The difference is that panic attacks tend to be much more severe in comparison. Panic attacks also tend to happen suddenly. Some people may feel a panic attack coming on while others are somewhat ambushed by the attack.

Whatever the case, panic attacks can be debilitating. In addition to the symptoms already discussed for anxiety attacks, panic attacks also involve feelings of dread. Some people may start to have irrational fears such as the fear of dying.

Symptoms of Panic Attack

Many people who have panic attacks note that they feel they have lost control. Losing control is a fear that people with anxiety have and it can make them feel powerless. Another unique symptom of panic attacks is derealization.

Derealization is when a person no longer feels that they are part of the world. Instead, they may feel that they have left their body. Or, they may feel that they are only an observer rather than a real person capable of action.

People who only have anxiety don’t usually experience these more severe symptoms. However, there are several places where anxiety and panic attacks can overlap. The physical symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks seem to be the most similar.

For example, both anxiety and panic attacks involve chills, sweating, and dry mouth. They may also involve headaches, upset stomach, and chest pain. Sometimes, the chest pain can be so severe that it feels like a heart attack.  Many people having an anxiety attack go to the emergency room and are told that there is nothing wrong after having their heart monitored. This can be very confusing if you don’t know you suffer from panic attacks.

Support for Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Even though these attacks can be debilitating, there are plenty of solutions. By taking a holistic approach to anxiety and panic attacks, you can better understand what you’re feeling when you experience these symptoms. More than that, once you better understand them, you can better manage them.

Mindfulness is an important practice for those who suffer from anxiety. The symptoms of anxiety can easily gang up on someone and cause an attack. When you practice mindfulness, you can better put all your worries into perspective.

You will also be able to prevent these worries from affecting you so intensely. In addition to mindfulness. Simple steps such as eating nutritional foods, reducing caffeine and making sure to stay hydrated help you to manage the physical impacts of anxiety. Keeping your body active allows to better be able to manage the mental, emotional and physical symptoms of anxiety. Movement, hydration and nutrition are good for maintaining your health overall, including your mental and emotional well being. While these suggestions can support anxiety management they don’t treat the underlying issues that lead to and cause anxiety and panic attacks.

Treatment for Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Professional counseling and psychotherapy with a licensed therapist is often the best option for addressing the underlying issues causing the symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks. While we all want a shortcut to solving our problems, addressing and changing patterns that lead to real and lasting change take time and skillful guidance. An assessment from a trained therapist that can help you accurately identify symptoms and provide a diagnosis is a good starting point. There are evidence based techniques that help to repattern the way your brain responds to stressors including EMDR that can be life changing. Having a licensed therapist to talk to is important for understanding if you have an underlying issue with anxiety, they can they support you with creating an effective plan for treatment.

All about Anxiety and Panic Attacks

While anxiety and panic attacks are similar, there are some important differences between them. Learning more about them, you can better treat them and prevent them from happening in the first place.

To learn more about treating anxiety issues with a holistic and neuroscience based therapeutic approach from a licensed therapist and professionally trained anxiety specialist contact us here

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