What is an Anxiety attack?
An anxiety attack is a sudden and intense episode of fear and anxiety. These anxiety attacks can sometimes occur unexpectedly for no apparent reason, but they can also be linked to specific triggers.
“Anxiety attack” is not a formal, clinical term. Instead, it is a term often used colloquially by many people to describe all sorts of anxious responses. People may use it to describe a range of sensations, from worries about an upcoming event to intense feelings of fear that would meet the diagnostic criteria for a panic attack. In order to understand what someone means by “anxiety attack,” it is necessary to consider the context in which the symptoms occur.
Symptoms of an anxiety attack can vary. Some people may only experience a few mild symptoms of anxiety, while others may experience a wider variety of more intense symptoms. These symptoms include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Dry mouth
- Muscle tension
- Rapid heart rate
- Tightness in the chest and throat
- Trouble concentrating
Anxiety attack Vs Panic Attack: What are the differences?
Have you ever experienced an intense feeling of terror, fear, or apprehension for no apparent reason? If so, you may have experienced a panic attack. If you experience recurrent panic attacks, you may have a condition known as panic disorder. Panic attacks can also be a sign of other underlying medical or mental health conditions, including sleep disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or depression.
Panic attacks can be confusing and scary for the person experiencing them, in that they are usually sudden and are accompanied by extremely intense physical sensations. This can lead a person to believe they may have a serious medical condition.
There are certain differences among them which are listed below:
An anxiety attack, or anxiety:
- can have a specific trigger, such as an exam, workplace issues, a health issue, or a relationship problem
- is not a diagnosable condition
- is less severe than a panic attack
- usually develops gradually when a person feels anxious
- involves physical symptoms, such as a racing heart or “knot in the stomach“
A panic attack:
- does not have a specific trigger
- can be a symptom of panic disorder, a diagnosable condition
- has severe symptoms
- can happen whether a person feels calm or anxious
- involves physical symptoms and feelings of terror so intense that the person fears a total loss of control or imminent death
- often occurs suddenly and unexpectedly and last between a few minutes and an hour, although the negative impact may continue
The exact causes of anxiety are not known, but it is likely that a variety of factors play a role. An anxiety attack can be triggered by anxiety disorders, perceived threats, or certain situations.
Effective anxiety treatments are available. These treatments can be used to treat a diagnosed anxiety disorder, but they can also be helpful for reducing general feelings of anxiety as well.
Psychotherapy focuses on changing the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors associated with anxiety. There are many different types of psychotherapy, but two that are frequently used are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy.
Some medications can be useful for treating symptoms of anxiety. These include:
- Benzodiazepines such as Xanax (alprazolam) and Valium (diazepam)
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Lexapro (escitalopram) and Zoloft (sertraline)
- Selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) such as Effexor XR (venlafaxine) and Cymbalta (duloxetine)
If you are experiencing anxiety attacks, various coping strategies and lifestyle modifications may also help. These include:
- Adequate sleep
- Deep breathing
- Regular exercise
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