Am I Experiencing an Anxiety Attack?

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You experience a stressful situation. Your heart starts pounding and you’re having trouble breathing. You start breathing too fast and maybe even hyperventilating. You have an impending sense of danger or doom–welcome to your anxiety attack.

What’s the difference between an anxiety attack and a panic attack? Anxiety attacks occur when there’s a trigger that sets them off, whereas panic attacks seem to occur for no discernable reason. But whether it’s triggered or not, if you’re suffering from some of the symptoms below, it’s time to get treatment for your anxiety.

What Are the Symptoms of an Anxiety Attack?

Symptoms of anxiety attack include feeling nervous, restless, or tense. You already know that your heart rate can increase along with your breathing and you may even start hyperventilating, but what else can you expect? You might start sweating, trembling, and feeling weak.

You may have chronic symptoms such as trouble sleeping at night, worrying all the time, and difficulty concentrating on work or other projects. Prolonged anxiety may even affect you physically, particularly your stomach and gastrointestinal system. You worry all the time and you’re sure something bad is going to happen. This is what it feels like to have anxiety.

What Are Some Types of Anxiety Disorders?

Have you ever heard of social anxiety disorder? People suffering from this issue want to avoid social situations because they feel awkward and have trouble participating. They are that person standing against the wall at a party interacting with no one. How about agoraphobia? It’s very similar to social anxiety disorder, but in particular, you fear being in situations where you have to go outside or meet strangers. You might panic at being in an unfamiliar environment.

Panic disorder is also closely related to these other anxiety disorders. As we said earlier, the difference between an anxiety attack and a panic attack is the trigger. More precisely, panic disorder happens with no rhyme or reason. Other than the absence of a trigger, many of the symptoms can be the same as anxiety: heart palpitations, chest pain, shortness of breath, and that awful feeling like you’re about to die.

Sometimes children suffer from an anxiety disorder. They may have separation anxiety disorder when they go to school for the first time or any time their parent leaves them with someone. We aren’t talking about the normal crying that happens sometimes when children are left with caregivers. Separation anxiety behavior is extreme. They can also suffer from selective mutism, a condition where a child refuses to speak at certain times. They may refuse to speak at school or with particular family members.

Basically, any time you have worry or anxiety out of proportion to the circumstances, you might suffer from an anxiety disorder. A history of substance abuse makes you more prone to suffering from anxiety, especially when you are in the midst of withdrawal or still misusing drugs.

What Medications Treat Anxiety Disorder?

You’ve probably seen some show on TV where someone suddenly finds themselves in an extremely stressful situation and they reach in their pocket and shakily pop a pill. Magically, a few seconds later they calm down.

Reality check.

Anxiety disorder can be treated with medications, but there is no magic pill. You’re looking at a chronic treatment program to control your symptoms. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants are usually safe and have minimal side effects. They are often the first choice of medications to treat anxiety disorders. Sometimes doctors will prescribe a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) antidepressant or benzodiazepines, but forget those magic pills that you’ve seen on TV.  

You’ll need to take these medications long-term to get your symptoms under control and keep them under control. Anxiety management often means taking medications in the long-term and using therapy to treat your emotional problems.

What Non Pharmaceutical Treatments Are Used?

If you’re looking beyond medications, there are some other options to try. First, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) treats the condition and reduces your anxiety. In CBT, a counselor helps you replace your negative thoughts with new positive emotions and behaviors. This therapy can be very fast-acting and effective in treating a multitude of disorders and addictions, including anxiety disorder.

Likewise, motivational interviewing treats many conditions besides substance abuse, including anxiety, depression, and mental disorders. With motivational interviewing, instead of giving you the answers, therapists ask you the right questions so you can find your own answers and make behavior and thought pattern changes while giving you emotional support. This nonjudgmental approach has been proven with positive long-term results. Expect to do a lot of soul-searching with this technique, but you can use motivational interviewing to manage anxiety.

Anxiety attacks create symptoms that can be very scary. You may have heart palpitations. Your chest may hurt. You may feel like you can’t breathe. This often creates a sense of doom to the person who has an anxiety attack. But there is hope. With treatment, there is no instant pill you can take, but many SSRI antidepressants can manage your symptoms and reduce the likelihood of an attack. Sometimes physicians prescribe benzodiazepines, but if you have a history of substance abuse, this medication may not be for you — prescriptions like diazepam or Valium can lead to abuse. There are non pharmaceutical approaches you can take, as well. You can try therapy by either utilizing a cognitive behavioral therapy approach or motivational interviewing. Both help change your thought patterns and the behavior that results. At Everlast Recovery Centers, we treat mental health problems as well as substance abuse. Call us at 866-DETOX-25

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