How To Act If You Have An Anxiety Attack

How to act if you have an Anxiety Attack

Knowing how to act if you have an anxiety attack is essential to not let this psychopathology take control of your routines and greatly limit your lifestyle. And, as happens with all anxiety disorders in general, in this alteration the phenomenon of self-fulfilling prophecy appears: the more we believe that we cannot do anything to overcome that problem, the more it takes root in our mind.

So, in this article I will give you general advice on How to manage the situation if you are suffering from anxiety attacks.

What is an anxiety attack?

An anxiety attack is a sudden, intense reaction to a situation or stimulus and can cause a great feeling of discomfort, fear, anguish, among others. These attacks usually reach their peak in a short period, but after those minutes, the intensity begins to decrease.

The symptoms experienced vary from person to person and can occur in specific situations or sometimes appear unexpectedly. It is common for the fear of dying to be present in addition to the symptoms; however, it is important to highlight that anxiety is a normal response to stress but when it arises continuously it can interfere with the person’s daily life.

What to do when you have an anxiety attack

When you are experiencing a panic attack, you think that it is very difficult to control the situation, but there are some steps that can help you manage it.

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On the one hand, Practicing deep breathing can help the nervous system stay calm. The process is to inhale through the nose very slowly and before exhaling slowly through the mouth, you have to hold the air for a few seconds. You have to repeat it several times and as you practice it, you can do it more consciously.

Additionally, it is important to identify which thoughts may be triggering anxiety. Questioning them is a correct option to see if they are realistic and try to modify them with more positive thoughts. When you share these thoughts or feelings with someone you trust, it eases the emotional burden and provides support.

Regarding activities, It is advisable to do those that generate well-being so that they distract the mind and thus reduce anxiety. At the time of an anxiety attack, it is advisable to look for a quiet place so that external stimulation decreases and if you cannot be in this type of place, visualize a safe and calm place to divert attention from the anxious symptoms.

Mindfulness practices are a very good option to focus on the present moment, for example meditation. You have to focus on breathing or you can observe those thoughts that cause discomfort without judging it.

Symptoms of anxiety

Anxiety is considered a natural response that the body emits in a stressful situation, but when this response is repeated persistently it gives rise to an anxiety disorder. The symptoms are experienced differently by each individual, but some common symptoms associated with anxiety are:

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Physical symptoms:

Emotional symptoms:

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Intrusive thoughts or constant worry
  • Difficulty maintaining concentration
  • Thoughts and feelings that something bad may happen and irritability
  • Fear of not maintaining control of the situation. Thoughts of death, both for oneself and for those in one’s immediate circle.

Social symptoms:

  • Avoid relating to or going to situations that trigger anxiety
  • Difficulty interacting with other people
  • Fear of being judged by others

Consequences of anxiety attacks

Anxiety attacks can have different consequences, affecting people’s physical and emotional well-being.

After experiencing an anxiety attack, Some people may develop a fear that another one will happen again at any unexpected moment. When there is an increase in fear, general anxiety increases.

People who have already suffered a first attack will begin to avoid those places that remind them of the experience or even situations, thus limiting daily life as social isolation will occur. In this way, anxiety will affect social relationships since sometimes they may feel afraid that other people will see them suffer this attack and there will be difficulty maintaining emotional connections.

On the other hand, anxiety is physically and emotionally draining since once the attack suffered has passed, the person may feel fatigued and will need minutes to recover (sometimes they have difficulty recovering completely).

Physical symptoms are also present, such as headache, muscle tension due to having been scared and with the body on alert and gastrointestinal problems. As for sleep, anxiety attacks can interfere, causing insomnia or disrupting the normal sleep pattern.

The self-esteem of the person who suffers from them is usually damaged because feelings of shame and guilt will appear, in addition to the fact that self-confidence decreases.

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When anxiety attacks are persistent, they can contribute to the development of generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder.

Not all people suffer the same consequences and to the same intensity, but if they are constantly present, it is advisable to ask a mental health professional for help to begin treatment and learn coping strategies. Cognitive-behavioral therapy may be a correct option.

Factors that increase the likelihood of suffering from anxiety

Some people are more likely to experience anxiety than others and some factors that increase the likelihood are:

  • Genetic factors: If there is a family history, a person may be at greater risk of suffering from anxiety.
  • Stress: Those who have high levels of stress may experience anxiety attacks more easily.
  • Traumatic experiences: Those who have experienced traumatic events at some point in their lives, such as abuse or violence, are at greater risk.
  • Personality: for example, people who are perfectionists, shy or worry excessively.
  • Substance use: Alcohol or drugs increase the likelihood of experiencing anxiety.
  • Hormonal changes: Hormonal variations such as those of the menstrual cycle or pregnancy can make some people more susceptible to anxiety.

Not all people who have these factors experience anxiety; some suffer attacks without presenting any of them.