What Does an Anxiety Attack Feel Like?

Anxiety is a mental health disorder accompanied by a host of disruptive symptoms. Irritability, insomnia, muscle tension, trouble concentrating and an ongoing feeling of being on high alert can interfere with your daily responsibilities. Depending on the type of anxiety disorder you have, you may also struggle with intrusive thoughts, overwhelming self-consciousness and anxiety attacks.

What Is an Anxiety Attack?

An anxiety attack typically has an identifiable trigger, such as stress about an upcoming work presentation or social event. It may last several days, during which you can have elevated stress levels, feel ill and have frequent nightmares.

Other symptoms include:

  • An elevated heart rate
  • Chest or stomach pains
  • Shaking
  • Dizziness
  • Hyperventilation
  • Sweating
  • Disorientation or detachment from reality
  • Extreme fear, despite no immediately noticeable threats

How to Manage Anxiety Attacks

One of the worst things about anxiety attacks is the ongoing worry that you may experience another one. Because they can be so upsetting, you may change your routine around a desire to avoid having a public breakdown. Many people with agoraphobia, or a fear of being in crowded places, develop this potentially debilitating condition due to anxiety.

If your anxiety feels overwhelming, remember you are not powerless against it. For example, controlled breathing exercises can help combat the shortness of breath that often accompanies anxiety attacks. You might also want to try grounding techniques to help distract you from your symptoms and bring your attention back into the moment.

Do You Have Panic Disorder?

People who experience frequent, recurring anxiety attacks may have a condition called panic disorder. If your anxiety detracts from your overall quality of life or has forced you to alter your everyday behavior, talk to your primary care physician.

Since anxiety attack symptoms can mimic warning signs of other severe health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, a health professional can conduct a screening to rule out these symptoms and help you arrive at an accurate diagnosis. A doctor may also refer you to a qualified therapist, who can teach you healthy coping techniques.

A Better Life Is Within Your Reach

People who self-medicate their anxiety with drugs and alcohol may find temporary relief. However, abusing these substances will eventually make your anxiety attacks worse, while causing a worsening physical and psychological dependence.

At Cumberland Heights, we know mental health disorders and addiction often co-occur, and that recovery requires addressing both conditions simultaneously. Reach out to us today to learn how we can help you transform your life with our evidence-based treatments.