Anxiety attacks are bursts of extreme fear and panic. They frequently happen abruptly and without notice. They sometimes have a clear cause — getting caught in an elevator, for instance, or worrying about the important speech you have to make. Other times, though, the attacks can be completely unexpected.
An anxiety attack rarely lasts longer than 30 minutes and typically peaks within 10 minutes. However, during that short period, you can feel such intense terror that you fear death or completely lose control.
Many people mistakenly believe they're experiencing a heart attack, as the physical symptoms are so terrifying in and of themselves. After having one, you might be concerned about having another, especially in a public setting where aid might not be available, or you might not be able to immediately leave.
Difference between Anxiety and Panic Attack
It's possible to hear people refer to panic attacks and anxiety attacks interchangeably. However, these are distinct conditions and have many characteristics. Anxiety can develop over time and is frequently brought on by certain situations, but panic episodes can come on suddenly and without warning.
Anxiety is frequently linked to the impending presence of stressful circumstances, encounters or events. It could develop gradually. Anxiety symptoms include worry, distress, fear. The signs and symptoms of anxiety episodes cannot be diagnosed, so there's room for interpretation. For example, despite claiming to have suffered an anxiety attack, a person may report experiencing one while displaying symptoms another person may have never had.
The unexpected onset of panic attacks usually involves extreme, paralyzing terror. They're accompanied by physically demanding sensations like nausea, shortness of breath, or a racing heartbeat.
Unexpected panic episodes can happen for no apparent reason. Fears and other external stressors serve as cues for anticipated panic episodes. While anyone can experience a panic attack, having more than one may indicate panic disorder, a mental health disease defined by unexpected and frequent panic attacks.
How to Manage an Anxiety Attack
Whether you're at home or in transit to office, you may experience any of these attacks. While they can be overwhelming, there're ways to manage them:
Simply recognizing your symptoms and acknowledging that you're experiencing an attack is the best way to stop an anxiety attack in its tracks.
If this is one of your first anxiety attacks, it can be difficult, but after that, you will be more prepared. When you realize you're experiencing an anxiety attack, try to write down a few of the signs and ideas you're having. You can put your anxiety attack in perspective by doing that.
2) Try out Belly Breathing
Breathing difficulty is a defining sign of an anxiety episode. The discomfort can, however, become worse if you take quick, shallow breaths. To halt the anxiety episode, try belly breathing. Your breathing will need to be similar to that of a baby whose belly rises and falls with each inhalation and exhalation.
When an anxiety attack begins, breathe out fully; relax your shoulders, and concentrate on taking longer, deeper breaths that allow your belly to rise and fall. If you want to experience that happening, place one hand on your stomach.
3) Orient to the Present
Even if your first instinct might be to escape the uncomfortable environment right away, resist the urge. As soon as your degree of worry subsides, you can determine whether you want to leave or if there's a possibility to resume your previous activity.
You can conquer anxiety by remaining present, although it's challenging at first. Start by acknowledging that everything that occurs is happening right now, right here at the present and the only place you can be. When that happens, acceptance of your current situation can come effortlessly.
4) Relax your body
Saying "Just relax" is simple, right? However, if you start to pay attention to your body during an anxiety attack, you can notice that various areas of the body clench up.
Make a conscious effort to tense and release certain body parts. Choose a bodily part that would respond, like your toes or shoulders, if other parts may not respond to you during an anxiety attack. It will be simpler to handle things if you can breathe deeply and unwind more.
Attacks of anxiety and panic are different from each another, despite the frequent confusion between the two. Similar symptoms, causes, and risk factors exist for both anxiety and panic episodes. However, panic episodes frequently last longer and have more severe physical symptoms.
If you're experiencing symptoms of anxiety or panic that are interfering with your daily life, you should speak with a healthcare provider. You can feel more in control if you have a treatment plan and follow it when an incident occurs.
Janvi Kapur is a counselor with a Master's degree in applied psychology with a specialization in clinical psychology.