What is Anxiety, what is a panic attack and how are these two different? In this video we explain the symptoms of panic attacks and General Anxiety Disorder or GAD. We explain how you can help someone who is suffering from these conditions and how you may get help if you’re suffering from it yourself. We have licensed psychologists monitor our comments, so please let us know if you have any questions or if you’d just like to talk to someone in the comments below. This video is supported by BetterHelp.com
Anxiety Attack Symptoms – Chest Pain and How to Handle an Anxiety Attack
One of the most distressing symptoms of an anxiety attack is chest pain. But don’t worry, you’re not having a heart attack. Chest pain is just one of many symptoms you may experience during an anxiety attack.
What Are the Symptoms of an Anxiety Attack?
Apart from chest pain, typical anxiety attack symptoms are; trembling, tightness across the chest / throat, shortness of breath, hot / cold flashes, nausea, dizziness, tingling in your fingers, disorientation and a feeling of some impending doom, etc.
As you can see these can be the signs of other conditions, so you are always best to see your doctor for a proper diagnosis. This article is written assuming that you have suffered an actual anxiety attack.
What Causes Anxiety Attack Symptoms?
Believe it or not, an attack is the result of your body’s natural primeval reaction to what it perceives as a threat to it. This is a natural response that helped us humans thousands of years ago either fight or flee from imminent danger.
At any ‘sign’ of danger, chemical reactions were very quickly triggered around the body to help enhance speed of thought, vision, physical strength and speed, etc. This gave us as much chance as possible to fight and win, or, run away to safety.
But today you’re extremely unlikely to come across a wild animal or enemy in the high street! Instead, your body picks up on suddenly elevated fear, stress or anxiety, as a sign that there is imminent danger and so triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response.
The chemical reactions are then set in motion, but you get confused, because you aren’t aware of any physical threat, so the result is that these chemical reactions manifest themselves to you as the symptoms of an anxiety attack.
What Triggers an Anxiety Attack?
It really doesn’t take much to trigger an attack. But the key starting point is that a person already has a level of anxiety, worry, or stress, that is way higher than normal.
These are people that are going through a period in their lives where they are stressing and worrying about problems, events, situations, etc., in a way that is way out of proportion to their seriousness.
So that an everyday event, such as shopping in a supermarket, being stuck in traffic, having a job interview, etc., adds to your already elevated anxiety and so raises your anxiety enough to trigger your body’s fight or flight response, resulting in the symptoms of an anxiety attack.
What to Do When You Are Having an Anxiety Attack.
The first thing is to remember that an attack can’t do you any harm. During an attack, if you force yourself to remember that the symptoms you are experiencing are just your body’s natural reaction to a perceived danger that doesn’t actually exist at all, you are halfway to defeating your attack.
Breath slowly and rhythmically, and, try to focus outwards rather than inwards on yourself. Focus on what is happening around you, so that you become distracted from your symptoms. You won’t be able to stop the symptoms at once, but you’ll be able to shorten the length of the attack considerably.
But What Do You Do to Prevent Further Attacks?
One of the key issues is the actual fear of having another attack. And no wonder, the experience of an anxiety attack is so horrible that you don’t want to go through that again — I know I’ve been there!
Here’s the thing though: That very fear can of itself trigger another anxiety attack. Remember above how I talked about fear being added on top of already heightened anxiety? Well that’s what can happen here; you being terrified of having another attack can trigger the very thing you’re scared of!
You need to break out of your vicious anxiety cycle by eliminating your fear of an attack. And you do this by meeting your fear head-on (see below).