What Are Anxiety Attacks?

Many people have felt anxiety before whether it’s before a job interview, a big game, or maybe even a social setting. 

In fact, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America about 18.1% of adults in the U.S. have an anxiety disorder. Many people who have a high amount of anxiety frequently suffer from anxiety attacks. An anxiety attack can be described as an intense feeling of doom that is often triggered by an event, typically lasting for a short amount of time or around 10 minutes. 

The symptoms of an anxiety attack can vary from person to person; however, Mayo Clinic describes the symptoms of an anxiety attack as:

•  Feeling nervous, restless, or tense

•  Having a sense of impending danger, panic, or doom

•  Having an increased heart rate

•  Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)

•  Sweating

•  Trembling

•  Feeling weak or tired

•  Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry

•  Having trouble sleeping

•  Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems

•  Having difficulty controlling worry

Physically, anxiety attacks can take a huge toll on a person. After an anxiety attack, you may feel weak or dizzy from rapid breathing and trembling. The increase in your heart rate can leave your feeling exhausted, and if you are restless from a lack of sleep, your body might feel depleted and have less energy throughout the day. 

In addition to the physical effects of an anxiety attack, they can also affect your mind. The stress, worry, or fear can cause a lack of sleep which might make you irritable, moody, or more prone to a future attack—this can in turn cause a lack of concentration. 

If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms of an anxiety attack, there are techniques you can use to help prevent or get through an attack. One of these methods is deep breathing. Since the symptoms of an anxiety attack include tightening of the chest or rapid breathing, it might be helpful for someone use the 4-7-8 method. 

With this method, you breathe in for four seconds, hold for seven seconds, and then exhale for eight seconds. If you find yourself dizzy and unable to focus on a breathing method, it is suggested to focus on an object to help ground yourself and reduce dizziness. Another method for getting through an anxiety attack is to physically remove yourself from a space. 

Most of the time, anxiety attacks occur after a person has been triggered, so it is best to put distance between yourself and that trigger when going through an attack. Exercise or a long walk is also helpful in preventing an anxiety attack by releasing endorphins that improve your mood. 

If you know someone who is going through an anxiety attack, it is best to calmly speak to them in short, predictable sentences. Always ask the person what they need, never assume you know. You may also breathe with them to help control their breath and calm down.

Written by: Janah Merlin

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