Fighting Anxiety Attacks

by FaybeBay

Anxiety attacks can paralyze the victim to a point of inaction, while taking action is in your best interest.Take charge of your anxiety attack, don't let it take charge of you.

Fighting an anxiety attack may seem, to the victim, impossible. Most of the time people don't even know that what they have is anxiety because they have never experienced it before. Some people experience so much pain that they think they are having a heart attack. They go to the emergency room and incur an enormous bill only to find out that their heart is fine (until they see the actual bill) and they are sent away with a prescription for a few pills and the recommendation to see a psychiatrist or go to their primary care physician for a referral. If you know the signs of an anxiety attack and how they differ from a heart attack you can save time and money.

Recognizing an Anxiety Attack

The first step in controlling your anxiety attacks is knowing what they are and why you're having them.

The trick to controlling your anxiety attacks is knowing that you are having one. Many people contribute to their own anxiety level by fearing the worst, that something life threatening is going on. As I write this I actually remember my first attacks and thinking that I was about to die and there was nothing I could do about it! 

This is extremely common in people who have never had an anxiety attack and think of themselves as emotionally healthy. The most common symptom in a full blown attack is a raging heart beat. You can feel it, you can see it as you look at your chest. You suddenly feel as if you can't breathe and there is no escape. Terror sets in as you feel you have no control over what is happening and the sense of impending doom is overwhelming. 

If this were a heart attack, or a stroke, you would feel much different. According to the American Heart Association the symptoms of a heart attack include an uncomfortable feeling in the chest like pressure or squeezing. The discomfort may radiate to different parts of the body such as one or both arms, the back, jaw, neck and even the stomach. Notice that it's pressure and discomfort, not a raging heart beat and terror. Many people have heart attacks and don't realize it. With that being the case, you can see the difference. Signs of a stroke include numbness, weakness, confusion, slurred speech and difficulty understanding what is being said. If any of these symptoms accompany your attack, or precede your attack then you need immediate medical attention.

For most of us an anxiety attack is very different than a heart attack. Some anxiety sufferers become extremely vigilant, keeping track of their heart rate and avoiding situations that may bring on an anxiety attack. For people who have had an attack in public it may be even more difficult; almost impossible if it happened at work. The fear of returning to the scene of the attack may seem to great to overcome.

The anxiety you are feeling is in the nature of all humans. Knowing that it's part of your nature may help you to deal effectively with your anxiety attacks when they come along. The fight or flight reflex is natural and occurs in every species on earth, and that is part of your anxiety problem. The brain has two solutions for stressful situations. One is assessing the threat that is causing the stress. This happens without you even knowing it, it's instinctive. When you are stressed and the brain sees no physical threat, the adrenaline of the fight or flight mechanism has already been triggered. Now the brain chooses a new option. There must be a problem to be solved and the brain realizes that you need a boost. Anxiety is what made you study harder so that you could get better grades, it's what helps you to deal with difficult deadlines, and meeting those deadlines gives you that sense of accomplishment and pride. Anxiety is not bad, it's just that sometimes the brain sends out the chemicals when we don't need them. The adrenalin is already in your bloodstream when the brain kicks in added stimulus to help you solve your problem. The brain is aiming to see that you win!

The double burst of adrenaline hitting your bloodstream added to the demands of every day living is what causes your attacks. You're not losing your mind and you're not losing control, you just feel like you are. Feelings are sometimes mistaken for facts!

How many times have you felt something that wasn't real? Maybe you felt like a bug was crawling on you because you saw a spider on TV. That's what an anxiety attack is. Your brain has gone into overtime to find the solution for your stress. 

So, before you embarrass yourself in a stressful situation, whether at work or at home, excuse yourself. Take as long as you need, but five minutes usually does it. Go to the bathroom and sit down. No it's not the prettiest idea, but who is going to tell you not to use the bathroom? Sit down and drop your head. Tell yourself that anxiety is normal, everyone has it, and you have it now. It is a natural part of life. It's actually good for you in the right situations, just not what you need at the moment. Take deep breaths to calm yourself, cry if it helps you. Don't allow the stress of those previous minutes enter your mind. Once calm go and run some water on a paper towel or wash cloth and blot your wrists and face with it. Then, go back out there and continue. 99% of the time whoever was causing your stress has had time to calm down too.

The other kind of attack you may feel is when you are alone. It comes from nowhere and seems to have no cause. This kind of attack is often like the aftershocks that follow an earthquake. You have been experiencing an abnormally high amount of stress but have taught yourself not to give in. Now you're alone and it feels like the walls are closing in. You were watching a movie on TV, reading a book, or perhaps on your computer relaxing and suddenly the attack comes out of nowhere. The solution is still the same. Stop whatever you are doing and go into your deep breathing and self comforting. Tell yourself that it's okay, you're okay and everything is going to be alright. It's the truth and the truth will, in this case, set you free from anxiety.

Updated: 09/11/2012, FaybeBay
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FaybeBay on 09/11/2012

Thanks Katiem. I have suffered from these attacks for about forty years I finally saw a therapist today who may be able to help me more than my research and relaxation techniques have. It seems I also suffer from PTSD and she has been treating these conditions and others for over 25 years. I'm very excited to have finally found a person who is truly willing to go the distance with me; someone I felt comfortable sharing my experiences with.

katiem2 on 09/10/2012

Very good facts about anxiety, it seems so many suffer from severe stress and anxiety with the trouble times we've been facing. I've noted a higher degree of anxiety in our youth. Hopefully folks will learn to identify the problem dealing with it accordingly. Great and helpful article you've written. Thanks :)K

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