Updated: Sep 21, 2020
Nowadays, people are struggling with anxiety more and more which means that more people are experiencing anxiety attacks. Although they are becoming more common, there is still a lack of understanding about what an anxiety attack actually is.
What is an Anxiety Attack?
An anxiety attack can be characterised most simply as a short burst of intense fear that has no official reason. They bring about a number of unpleasant symptoms that cause people to feel various things such as nausea, sweaty palms, shaking etc.
Anxiety attacks are often described as panic attacks but in actual fact are not the same thing. Panic attacks exhibit the same symptoms as anxiety attacks but predominately are caused by a fear of dying.
What does an anxiety attack feel like?
As mentioned earlier, it is an overwhelming sense of fear. The thing is, everybody feels fear differently so the symptoms range from having a bad stomach and feeling like you're having a heart attack. Many people are more fearful when anxiety strikes because of how severe the physical symptoms are. If you want to read more about the symptoms, have a read through my previous blog post: https://www.zortex.co.uk/post/symptoms-of-anxiety-part-two
How do I stop an anxiety attack?
The main goal is to try and find a way to relax. Focusing on controlling your breathing is a good way to reduce anxiety but doesn't always produce the quickest results. There are times when leaving the situation offers quick relief but that doesn't usually help in the long term goal of overcoming anxiety. Sipping water is a good way to regulate breathing also. Progressive muscles relaxation can help relieve the physical tension and encourages your body to relax which can influence the mind.
How do I prevent an anxiety attack?
The best way to prevent an anxiety attack is to gently work your way up through triggers. You are more likely to trigger an anxiety attack if you put yourself in a situation that causes high anxiety. The other way to prevent an anxiety attack is to try and keep yourself distracted and to keep your mind occupied. By doing so, you help keep your brain away from noticing potential triggers.
How do I help someone who is having an anxiety attack?
The best help you can provide someone is support and reassurance. Each person is unique so they may require different help. Some people like to hear reassuring phrases like "It'll be OK" or "you have nothing to worry about". However, some people find it frustrating when they hear phrases like that. If possible, ask the person what would help them. If they don't know or are unable to speak, offer suggestions. Going for walks helped me a lot as did listening to music. Sometimes just being there with them whilst they are going through it is enough.
Anxiety attacks can be very scary especially when you don't know what they are. The more you understand though in theory and from your own experiences, the better they will get. You will figure out what triggers them and find ways of coping.