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Anxiety Attack

A anxiety attack is a period of intense fear or discomfort, typically with an abrupt onset and usually lasting no more than thirty minutes. Anxiety attacks are much different from other types of anxiety, in that anxiety attacks are very sudden, appear unprovoked, and are often disabling.

Most individuals that experience one attack will often experience others. People who have repeated attacks, or feel severe anxiety about having another attack are said to have panic disorder.

Most sufferers of anxiety attacks report a fear of dying, "going crazy", or losing control of emotions and/or behavior. The experiences generally provoke a strong urge to escape or flee the place where the attack begins, and, when associated with chest pain or shortness of breath, a feeling of impending doom and/or tunnel vision.

A person with a phobia will often experience an anxiety attack as a direct result of exposure to the phobic trigger. These anxiety attacks are usually short-lived and rapidly relieved once the trigger is escaped. In conditions of chronic anxiety one anxiety attack can often roll into another one, leading to nervous exhaustion over a period of days.

anxiety attack symptoms

The symptoms of a anxiety attack appear suddenly, without any clearly visible cause. The symptoms may include:

  • pounding heartbeat often fast in nature
  • increased sweating
  • pain in the chest
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • tingling and/or numbness in the face and extremities
  • Dreamlike sensations or perceptual distortions (de-realization)
  • Disassociation, the perception that one is not connected to the body or even disconnected from space and time.
  • Fear of losing control and doing something embarrassing
  • Fear of dying
  • Feeling of impending doom
  • Crying (in relation to the above symptoms)

A anxiety attack typically lasts for several minutes and is one of the most distressing conditions that a person can experience in everyday life.

The various symptoms of a anxiety attack can be understood as follows. First comes the sudden onset of fear with little or no provoking stimulus. This then leads to a release of adrenaline (epinephrine) which cause the so-called fight-or-flight response where the person's body prepares for major physical activity. This leads to an increased heart rate (tachycardia), rapid breathing (hyperventilation), and sweating (which increases grip and aids heat loss).

Because strenuous activity rarely ensues, the hyperventilation leads to carbon dioxide levels lowering in the lungs and then the blood. This leads to shifts in the pH of the blood which then leads to many of the other symptoms such as tingling or numbness, dizziness, and lightheadedness. Anyone who hyperventilates for a while can demonstrate this. For the person with a anxiety attack who does not know this, these symptoms are often seen as further evidence of how serious the condition is. An ensuing vicious cycle of adrenaline release fuels worsening physical symptoms and psychological distress.

Disclaimer: Information shared in this section is indicative. Please do not make any conclusion and we strongly recommend you to consult with your Doctor. Symptoms may vary with individual, geography, climate and lifestyle