Anxiety attacks, also known as the panic attacks, are episodes of sudden and extreme fear and nervousness often accompanied with a great number of physical symptoms. People prone to anxiety attacks often describe these episodes like very frightening experience that makes them think they are having a heart attack, nervous breakdown or even dying. Anxiety is a normal human reaction to stress but if it becomes excessive and manifests as a dreadful fear from everyday situations, it may be extremely disabling.
Symptoms of anxiety attack
Anxiety attack can last for a couple of minutes to a couple of hours, reaching a peak within ten minutes. The attacks may occur only once in a while or quite frequently. The symptoms vary from person to person and the actual trigger is not always obvious. Usually the anxiety attack is characterized with: intense panic and fear, hyperventilation, increased heart rate, excessive sweating, cold sweats, trembling or shaking, muscular cramps and the feeling of tension all over the body, feeling of choking or feeling of having a bump in the throat, chest pain, nausea, abdominal problems, dizziness, confusion, blurry or tunneled vision, and feeling the need to escape.
It is estimated that one out of every 75 people worldwide will experience panic attacks at one time in their lives. Approximately 40 million American adults are affected by anxiety disorders. This frightening experiences often leads to other complications such as phobias, depression, substance abuse, medical complications, and even a suicide.
Managing anxiety attacks
Anxiety attacks can be successfully treated with a great variety of available therapies. Usually, treatment involves psychological therapies or medication. There are also many simple relaxation methods, relaxation techniques for anxiety and self-help techniques available. The most important thing to understand is that any kind of treatment involves constant work and readiness to deal with the problem. There are a lot of support forums where patient can exchange experiences and fears with the others and get the encouragement to hold on.
People with mild and occasional anxiety attacks will probably find breathing exercises very helpful. These are a good strategy to shift the focus away from the physical reactions of a panic attack. This instant remedy can be used anytime. The idea is to slow the over-stimulation of the brain that leads to dizziness, palpitations, and shallow breathing. The over-stimulation is being caused by hyperventilation, which is the most prominent symptom of anxiety attacks. Patients are advised to slow their breathing while imagining coming down from the peak of their fears. Sometimes, the paper-bag re-breathing technique is used to treat an acute panic attack. Patient is advised to breathe into a paper bag in order to lower the oxygen levels in the blood.