Anxiety Attack

Anxiety Attack: Symptoms, Cause and Management Tips  

What Is an Attack of Anxiety?


A severe and sudden bout of fear and worry is known as an anxiety attack. Although they might happen suddenly and for no apparent cause, anxiety episodes can sometimes be connected to particular triggers. The phrase “anxiety attack” is not a formal, medical phrase. The phrase is frequently used in colloquial language to convey a variety of apprehensive reactions. There are times when everyone feels anxious or panicky. It’s a typical reaction to tense or risky circumstances.

Yet, a person who suffers from panic disorder experiences worry, stress, and panic on a regular basis at any time, frequently for no apparent cause.


Key signs of a panic attack

Anxiety attack signs and symptoms can change. While others may experience a wider range of more severe symptoms, some persons with anxiety may only experience a few minor symptoms. These signs consist of:

  •     Apprehension
  •     Diarrhea
  •     Difficulty sleeping
  •     Dry mouth
  •     Irritability
  •     Lightheadedness
  •     Headache
  •     Muscle tension
  •     Nausea
  •     Rapid heart rate
  •     Shaking
  •     Sweating
  •     Tightness in the chest and throat
  •     Trouble concentrating
  •     Worry


Panic attack versus Anxiety attack


Perhaps you’ve been overcome by a sudden, powerful emotion of horror, anxiety, or dread? In that case, you might have had a panic attack.

You can suffer from panic disorder if you frequently encounter panic attacks. Several underlying medical or mental health concerns, such as sleep disturbances, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or depression, might also be indicative of panic attacks.

Because panic attacks are typically quick and accompanied by extremely powerful physical feelings, they can feel perplexing and frightening to the individual experiencing them. They can have a racing heart as well as confusion and trembling. Dizziness, nausea, dry mouth, and chest pain are all frequent side effects.

Although a panic attack is not harmful, the symptoms are frequently mistaken for other significant medical illnesses. A person may occasionally feel as though they are going to die or have a heart attack.

It is crucial to rule out any medical causes because the symptoms of a panic attack and those of some severe diseases overlap.

The duration of a panic attack and an anxiety episode are different. The average duration of a panic episode is between 10 and 20 minutes. An anxiety attack can leave you feeling worse for longer. They may start out slowly and last for a few hours or several days.


Signs of a Panic Attack

Among the signs of a panic attack are:


  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Chills or hot flushes
  • Fear of dying
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy
  • Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
  • Feeling of choking
  • Feelings of unreality (derealization) or of being detached from oneself (depersonalization)
  • Heart palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
  • Nausea or abdominal distress
  • Numbness or tingling sensations (paresthesias)
  • Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking


Diagnosis of a Panic Attack

Your initial course of action may be to speak with your doctor if you are exhibiting signs of anxiousness. To rule out any underlying medical disorders that could be causing or exacerbating your symptoms, your doctor will perform a physical examination and possibly order blood testing. Your doctor could suggest that you seek further assessment from a mental health expert if there is no apparent medical cause.

Because an anxiety attack is not a recognized diagnostic, based on your symptoms you can be given a different sort of anxiety disorder diagnosis, like panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder. In order to make a diagnosis using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5-TR) criteria, your doctor will inquire about your symptoms.

All women over the age of 13 should now be evaluated for anxiety, according to experts, but if you are worried about any symptoms you are having, always talk to your doctor.


The Causes of Anxiety Attacks

Although the precise causes of anxiety are unknown, a number of elements are probably involved. Anxiety disorders, feared threats, or certain circumstances might cause an anxiety attack.


Mood Disorders

Certain anxiety problems may lead to anxiety attacks. They each have a unique set of symptoms. These ailments may also have various causes or be brought on by specific circumstances.


  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): This condition is characterized by excessive, irrational worry that has no apparent explanation.


  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): OCD is characterized by distressing intrusive obsessions and compulsions that are challenging to manage.


  • Panic disorder: This ailment is characterized by unexpected, sudden panic attacks.


  • Social anxiety disorder (SAD): This ailment causes a person to feel overly self-conscious and afraid of social situations.


  • Particular phobias: These phobias are characterized by an extreme and overwhelming dread of a particular scenario or object.


Perceived Threats


An uncertain or ambiguous threat may cause anxiety. For instance, picture yourself alone and navigating a pitch-black roadway. You might feel a little nervous and possibly experience some stomach butterflies. This kind of “anxiety attack” is linked to the potential for a risk that could cause you harm.

Genetics, long-term stress, drug and alcohol use, changes in the brain, specific drugs, traumatic experiences, and chronic stress are additional factors that might cause the symptoms of an anxiety attack. A coffee overdose might also cause an anxiety attack.


How to control a panic attack


There are effective anxiety therapies, such as psychotherapy and medication. These therapies can be used to treat anxiety disorders, but there are certain suggestions that can also assist to lessen anxiety in general.


Many coping mechanisms and lifestyle changes may also be beneficial if you frequently experience anxiety attacks. They consist of:


A good night’s sleep is essential for maintaining mental health, and in some cases, sleep deprivation can make anxiety symptoms worse.


  • Shallow breathing during an anxiety attack can speed the heart rate and make it harder to maintain composure. When coping with feelings of stress and worry, practice deep breathing exercises to assist keep your breathing and heart rate under control.
  • Practice focusing on your breathing and remaining present in the moment by engaging in meditation. It has been demonstrated that meditation techniques can help lessen some of the signs and symptoms of anxiety.
  • Beginning with 10 minutes a day of practice Try using a mobile meditation app or a guided audio meditation if you need assistance.
  • Regular exercise: It has long been recognized that exercise is good for both physical and mental health.
  • Exercise has also been shown in research to be a useful strategy for easing the effects of anxiety.
  • Support: In terms of mental health and wellbeing, social support can be quite important.
  • It can be beneficial to ask friends and family for support because anxiety is sometimes a solitary experience.
  • Taking part in an anxiety support group is another option.



Key Points :

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A review article by

Dr Bhavana Kalvala

(Clinical Research Director @ IEEARC Tech)


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