If you have ever experienced an anxiety attack, you’re probably familiar with the fear of not having control over your mind or body. During an attack, it can be difficult to stay focused long enough to calm yourself. In order to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety attacks, it may help to understand and anticipate the changes in the body during an episode.
How Does an Attack Begin?
Everyone experiences these types of attacks differently, but there are some common signs to look out for. Panic is often triggered by specific situations, so it may be helpful to analyze your day-to-day stress points. Attacks of anxiety don’t necessarily have to stem from circumstances, and many people experience moments of panic abruptly and unexpectedly.
Regardless of the basis for an attack, panic often begins with some type of unusual physical sensation in the body such as:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Weakness in the limbs
- Rapid heartbeat or chest pains
- Difficulty concentrating
- Respiratory issues
- Abnormal pains or aches
As these triggers occur, your mind may focus too strongly on each symptom, which creates more anxiety. Many people may not even notice these physical changes, but those who suffer from panic or anxiety disorders often have hypersensitivity to any new sensation.
What is Happening in the Body?
When you begin to panic, signals are sent to various parts of your brain that essentially tell the body how to react. The sympathetic nervous system becomes active and releases adrenaline into your bloodstream. This is nature’s way of helping the body deal with physical threats. Because panic attacks don’t fall under that category, the extra boost of energy can be more damaging than helpful.
You may experience a rush of anxiety once the adrenaline is released into your system. This can create a domino effect of symptoms such as nausea, shakiness or excess perspiration. You may feel uncontrollably panicked, and you may struggle to take in enough air. Many people experience a feeling of extreme dread, and some temporarily lose touch with reality.
How can you Stop a Panic Attack?
It’s possible to reduce the severity or intensity of an anxiety attack. If you feel yourself panicking, it may be helpful to find an immediate distraction. Talk to someone about your feelings, take purposeful and controlled breaths, tense and relax every muscle group one by one, count backward from 100 or take a brief walk. Having a plan may prevent you from spiraling downward.
Although the emotional and physical symptoms of anxiety attacks are frightening, it can be beneficial to just allow the sensations to come and go. Remind yourself that your body will use up the released adrenaline and eventually return to a calmer state. If you don’t believe you can manage your panic attacks, feel free to contact us. We’ll get you on the right path so that you can regain control.