Have you ever felt that you can not breathe? Do you have palpitations and sweats? Do you know what an anxiety attack is? Anxiety is one of the illnesses of our current society. Surely more than once you’ve heard from someone who has suffered extreme nervousness, as well as irrational blocking fear. The problem appears when the anxiety becomes something chronic that prevents us from having a normal life. Here, we explain what is an anxiety attack.
Fear as a defence mechanism
If we are what we are today is because thanks to fear, the human being has been able to evolve. Emotions are made to fulfil a certain function in the body. Fear is a reaction to a danger that has always helped the human being to survive. However, this reaction, in our days, is quite misunderstood.
Although our species has evolved over the centuries, our brain continues to exercise its function: to protect ourselves against situations that may put us at risk. Psychotherapists don’t work so that people do not feel afraid. Quite the opposite. This feeling has helped many to overcome each day or to choose a more suitable path according to their circumstances. The job should be to teach your patients to manage that fear so that it is not an obstacle in their daily routine. Feeling fear is does not mean being weak or coward. It’s part of being human.
Our body, when it begins to feel discomfort or a change, warns the brain to put it on alert. This process begins by producing a feeling of anguish, nerves and fear, which can lead to what is known as an anxiety attack.
What is an anxiety attack?
The manifestation of a series of anxiety symptoms that prevent the person from reacting is what ends up producing the anxiety attack. The sensations are very intense, almost devastating, and the person who suffers feels that they may even lose their life. Have you ever felt like this? If you want to understand well what is an anxiety attack, these are the signs that give it away:
Palpitations and tachycardia. Tingling in the extremities. Inability to breathe. Chest pain. Sweating Uncontrollable crying General discomfort. Feeling of unreality Fear of suffering a heart attack. Nausea and dizziness Muscular weakness. Depersonalization Fear of losing control completely. Chills or hot flashes. Suicidal thoughts.
Experts say that anyone can suffer an anxiety attack throughout their lives. However, anxiety attack disorder is more common in women than in men, being more frequent in the range of 18 to 35 years. The problem occurs when this condition becomes common in the patient’s life. Here you can read more about how is anxiety manifested.
Types of anxiety disorders
Anxiety is a mental state that can occur in different ways. Different types of disorders have been established among which are:
- Generalized anxiety disorder.
- Anxiety disorder.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder.
- Stress Disorder.
Why does an anxiety attack occur?
If you have ever experienced episodes of anxiety, the last thing you should do is judge yourself. The reasons why these anxiety attacks occur are very varied. Let’s see what are the most frequent causes that trigger an anxiety crisis:
# 1 .- Genetic inheritance
Some people are more predisposed to anxiety for genetic reasons. This makes them have a higher level of anxiety.
# 2 .- An overprotective education
Overprotection makes us more vulnerable to the possible changes and challenges of life. If in our childhood and adolescence we have always had someone solve our problems, it is very likely that in adulthood we feel anxiety before any type of complication.
# 3.- Stressful and/or dramatic events
People go through delicate moments in our lives that can lead to an anxiety crisis. The loss of a loved one, a divorce, getting fired, an overly stressful job, etc. All these events lead to the accumulation of a state of nervousness that could trigger an anxiety attack.
# 4.- Catastrophic personality
People who see danger when it has not even occurred are more prone to anxiety crises. They are individuals who tend to have negative and catastrophic thoughts about their own existence. “I’m going to die”, “my partner is going to leave me”, “I’m going to lose my job”, etc. are regular expressions in them.
All these causes, if not treated in time, can generate an anxiety disorder over time.
Anxiety in women
As we said earlier, women are more prone to anxiety attacks than men. Why? The life of women has changed a lot in recent years. Work life or family conciliation sometimes produce a high level of exigency that generates stress and anxiety.
On the other hand, female hormones and their alteration in the different stages of a woman are the cause of variable emotional states. If we add all these conditions, it is logical to conclude why women have more anxiety attacks than the male population.
What to do and what not to do in the face of an anxiety attack
If you feel that anxiety is invading your body and mind, the first thing you have to think about is that you are in a temporary state. Usually, anxiety attacks or panic attacks do not last more than 30 minutes. So avoid fighting and losing energy in something that will end on its own. On the other hand, it is important that:
- Recognize that you are facing an anxiety attack. This thought will help you understand that your health is not in danger. You will not suffer a heart attack or you will die. In a few minutes, you will feel much better.
- Close your eyes for a while. This will help your mind relax. Find a comfortable position where you can breathe.
- Try not to flee, but move to a quieter place. If the anxiety attack occurs in a public place, go to an area that makes you feel more comfortable. If you are driving, stop the car until you feel better. Avoidance is anxiety’s favourite food.
- Find people who support you without overwhelming. Asking for help if you need it will allow you to feel better. Avoid toxic people who limit themselves to giving you meaningless advice instead of supporting you even if it’s in silence.
- Try to distract yourself as much as possible. If you manage to turn your mind away from fear, it will return to its normal state. Go for a walk, call a friend on the phone, etc. All these actions will allow you to normalize the situation little by little.
- If your anxiety attacks are frequent seek professional help. Therapy is a good alternative to reduce anxiety attacks and the discomfort they cause
How can we help a person who is suffering from an anxiety crisis? Through an attitude of understanding and active listening. The last thing a person with anxiety needs is that they overwhelm them. Therefore, it is essential to avoid reproaches and disqualifications. On the other hand, you should not blame the person for feeling this way. Good information on anxiety disorders is essential to help a family member or friend with this problem. Here you can read more about the different types of anxiety.
Treatment for anxiety attacks
Once a person recognizes that they have a problem, they need to seek professional help to solve it. The psychological treatments for anxiety disorders have the effectiveness of almost 90%. This indicates that patients can be educated to cope better with their anxiety.
Psychological treatment for anxiety attacks is based on:
- The psychoeducation of the patient about emotions, fear and anxiety.
- Different relaxation techniques for the control of breathing.
- Mechanisms to handle the negative thoughts that feed the anxiety.
- Techniques to heal beliefs and distorted interpretations of reality.
In specific cases, this therapy will have to be accompanied by some type of drug that helps the patient lead a normal life. The positive thing about this problem is that, once you have identified what an anxiety attack is, you can treat it. With the necessary tools, people with anxiety can turn their discomfort to a more positive and healthy state. If your answer to the question, do I have anxiety? is affirmative, say goodbye once and for all and start a new life away from stress and fear.
If you want to improve your level of well-being, in TherapyChat we can help you. We are international leaders in online psychology and we have the right therapist for you.