Anxiety attack signs: How to fight anxiety?


Anxiety can attack any individual regardless of age. The common signs of an anxiety attack are aggression, headache, nausea, and discomfort. Although people can get frequent anxiety attacks, they should be well-informed that anxiety is different from fear. Fear is a feeling of concern or worry that a person experiences, in response to a specific brain stimulus.

Fear is a conditioned response. Nervousness, worry, and concern over a specific thing is common. But, anxiety is a hypothetical situation you fear. It is a future-oriented fear. Frequent anxiety attacks can also negatively impact your cognitive skills, immune system, heart, and deteriorate your overall health over time. It’s best to treat anxiety before it starts affecting you.

Our brain typically has a mechanism to manage fear and anxiety. The pathways don’t usually interrupt, which could lead to interruptions in our daily chores. Sadly, the anxiety facing individuals have an interrupted pathway. Their brain loses the ability to differentiate between fear and anxiety, setting off irrational behavior.

Signs of an anxiety attack

  • Headache, dizziness, and light-headedness
  • Nausea
  • Cognitive impairment like loss of focus and vision
  • Heart pounding
  • Respiratory distress
  • Chills, sweating, shivering, restlessness, and irritability

What causes frequent anxiety attacks?

People usually tend to confuse an anxiety attack from a panic attack. Certain situations trigger an anxiety attack. In contrast, there is no reason for a panic attack. It can happen all of a sudden, even, during sleep. Frequent anxiety attacks are manageable comparatively. In a panic attack, all the symptoms are intense, last for a longer time, and can be fatal in rare cases. Occasional panic can also trigger anxiety attacks. Other frequent causes of an anxiety attack include

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Financial and work stress
  • Relationship troubles
  • Certain health conditions like OCD, PTSD, genetic factors, drug or alcohol abuse, tobacco, and excess caffeine.

What can you do to combat the signs of an anxiety attack?

The vital task you need to perform is to find out what triggers an anxiety attack. Try to avoid those situations. If meeting new people makes you anxious, take a friend with you. This method can help you gradually reduce the intensity of the symptoms and finally get rid of anxiety. 

Try to stay calm and relax– slow inhalations and exhalations can help you relieve symptoms. Let go of all the burden you have on your head. Put it all on a paper so that you won’t forget it and let go. Meditate and exercise regularly to fight anxiety.

Meditation helps you reorganize the connections in your brain to a state of peace. It simply helps you control your thoughts instead of vice-versa, which is common in anxiety. Regular exercise, on the other hand, helps relieve your symptoms. It elevates your strength and stabilizes your mood. It also helps divert you from your stress and burden. Regular aerobic exercise serves as a natural anti-anxiety stimulator.

Therapies for anxiety

  • Behavioral therapy: This therapy examines how you react under a certain situation. It primarily focuses on your thoughts at those moments, rather than your actions.  The situation will not let you act out, rather it is your perception of the situation that makes you anxious. The basic idea behind behavioral therapy is to control your negative thoughts and beliefs. The best method would be to replace your negative thoughts with reality.
  • Talk therapy: If you are suffering from mental disturbances, work pressure, relationship trouble, all of which contribute to triggering anxiety; you don’t have to keep all to yourself. Try talking out your thoughts, phobias, trouble with someone. It’s always best to talk about what’s going on in your mind since it makes you feel that the burden is already lifted. Consult a therapist who can professionally help you solve your anxiety issues.
  • Never forget to get enough sleep. The brakes to control anxiety work fine only when you have enough sleep. Fix a sleep schedule for quality and quantity of sleep. Make sure you get all the benefits of a good night’s sleep.

Deep brain stimulation for severe anxiety

Doctors suggest deep brain stimulation methods for OCD treatment and only severe cases of anxiety and panic attacks. The patients are usually non-responsive to medications. In this method, they implant an electrode into the brain with a surgery. The surgeon later connects this electrode to a pulse generator, which is wirelessly controlled with remote control. This helps the person control their nerve impulses. Frequent maintenance visits to the neurologist is a must. The client gradually learns the combination to which he/she should adjust the nerve impulse, to relieve their symptoms of an attack.

What to do when anxiety affects sleep?

People tend to lose sleep at night worrying about the future or it may be the other way round. They start to feel anxious because they can’t sleep. This way of sleep deprivation can result in emotional instability. It can eventually ruin relationships due to a lack of empathy between the couple. There are some tips you can follow at night.

  • Fix a regular sleep schedule depending on your requirement. If you go to bed way earlier than your normal sleep cycle, you would be staring at the ceiling the whole time. This inability to sleep makes you anxious and ruins the next day.
  • Switch off all electronics at least about an hour before sleep. The radiation signals your brain to wake up. Create a calm and dark environment for your sleep.

How do your brain and body contribute to signs of anxiety?

Amygdala, i.e., the emotional brain regulates emotional processing. Anxiety is a sign of hyperactive Amygdala. The primary reason is the brakes which block the excitatory action of Amygdala into consciousness, are shut off. A vital brake here is the ventromedial prefrontal cortex.

In the event of a threat, Amygdala processes the signals. It signals the brain to release cortisol, norepinephrine, and adrenaline. These chemicals naturally boost perception and increase our reflex speed during a threat. A common consequence is increased heartbeat and breath rate, in order to get more oxygen to reach different parts of our body, to combat the threat. The prolonged effects of anxiety can result in a disruption in the hippocampal region. It gradually results in the wear and tear of certain cells, increasing the risk of Parkinson’s disease and dementia.

Headache

During anxiety and stress, the muscles behind the ear, and around the head and eyes tighten, causing headaches– common signs of an anxiety attack. In other words, it is a physical response to your emotional and physical distress. The sudden decrease in the release of serotonin can also cause migraines due to constricted vessels.

Nausea and discomfort

During an anxiety attack, the excitatory release of neurotransmitters by the brain can sometimes interfere and upset the gut microbiome, causing you to feel nauseous and throw up. In the event of a threat, sweat is a physical response that you are in danger. It is also a way to cool down the body temperature, during which you experience chills. A cumulative effect of all the hormones and neurotransmitters results in irritability and restlessness.

Can frequent anxiety attacks affect mortality?

Anxiety attacks alone cannot reduce the mortality of a person. The risk factors associated with anxiety are responsible for the increased susceptibility. Anxiety can gradually result in heart palpitation and breathlessness. Moreover, anxiety can reduce the immune response of an individual, making him/her more prone to infections. There are also cases where the person responds very low to vaccines comparatively. 

Additionally, according to studies, they observed that anxiety also increases the risk of cancer in rare cases. You should never ignore the mild conditions of distress. Prolonged effects can cumulatively contribute to reduced mortality. Depression is the most common cause of heart complications. Meditation can help relieve a few symptoms by regulating blood pressure and reducing stress.

Related: How sleep deprivation increases anxiety and affects emotional stability

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