Anxiety is a normal reaction to danger, the body’s automatic fight-or-flight response which is triggered when we feel threatened, under pressure, or when we are facing a challenging situation, such as a job interview, exam, or a first date. When anxiety is constant or overwhelming, when worries and fears interfere with our relationships and daily life, we have most likely crossed the line from normal anxiety into the territory of an anxiety disorder. Prachika Chopra
, a mental health counsellor and a career counsellor discusses the signs of anxiety attacks.
Anxiety attacks, also known as panic attacks, are episodes of intense panic or fear. It occurs suddenly and without warning. It usually peaks within 10 minutes, and rarely last more than 30 minutes. The physical symptoms of anxiety attacks are so frightening that many people think they are having a heart attack. After an anxiety attack is over, a person may worry about having another one, particularly in a public place where help is not available. A person experiences difficulty in breathing, tends to sweat a lot, even if it is winters, heart palpitations and chest pain and feels like opening all the windows or maybe going to the terrace while feeling suffocated. Excessive worrying, agitation, fatigue and tiredness, difficulty in concentration, poor cognitive functions and muscular tension are common symptoms of anxiety attacks.
Reasons for anxiety attacks
Anxiety attacks most commonly happen when a person suppresses emotions which causes excessive worry and the person feels that the situation is out of control. That is why it is very important to express our emotions. Anxiety attacks are common when there is lack of self-love, self-esteem, identity crisis and there is always a dire need of being loved by others and not considering oneself important.
While having an anxiety disorder can be disabling, preventing an individual from living the desired life, it is important to know that you are not alone. Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health issues and are treatable. Once you understand your anxiety disorder, there are steps you can take to reduce the symptoms and regain control of your life. If you identify with any of the following signs and symptoms, and they just won’t go away, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder. Are you constantly tense, worried, or on the edge? Does your anxiety interfere with your work, school, or family responsibilities? Are you plagued by fears that you know are irrational, but can’t shake? Do you believe that something bad will happen if certain things are not done a certain way? Do you avoid everyday situations or activities because they cause you anxiety? Do you experience sudden, unexpected attacks of heart-pounding panic? Do you feel like danger and catastrophe are around every corner?
Distinguishing anxiety disorders from a medical illness
In addition to the primary symptom of excessive and irrational fear and worry, other common emotional symptoms of an anxiety disorder include feelings of apprehension or dread, watching for signs of danger, anticipating the worst, trouble with concentrating on the tasks, feeling tense and jumpy, irritability and feeling like your mind has gone blank. Pounding heart, sweating, headaches, stomach upset, dizziness, frequent urination or diarrhea, shortness of breath, muscle tension or twitches, shaking or trembling and insomnia. Because of these physical symptoms, anxiety sufferers often mistake their disorder for a medical illness. People tend to visit many doctors and make numerous trips to the hospital before their anxiety disorder is recognized.
It is important to seek help if you are starting to avoid certain situations because you are afraid of having a panic attack. The truth is that panic attacks are highly treatable. The expert suggests that, many people are panic free within just 5 to 8 sessions for treatment.