Common Diseases > Anxiety and Anxiety Attacks
Anxiety attacks can range from mild to debilitating and demonstrate themselves
in numerous symptoms. For the most part, an anxiety or panic attack brings on an
intense feeling of anxiety of worry that causes feelings of fear, physical
illness, and discomfort. In some cases there is an event that triggers such an
attack, but it is also possible that the trigger is unknown. The episodes can be
random and come on instantly.
During the attack the body produces extra hormones to prepare the body for its
"fight or flight" action, which is what causes the symptoms to become more
profound. A person who suffers from anxiety attacks will tell you that he/she
feels like they are having a heart attack or cannot breathe, thus giving them
the feeling that they are going to die. It may cause them to try to flee from
the area in order to try to escape the feelings of anxiety or panic.
The most common symptoms of such an attack include increased blood pressure and
heart rate, which often causes flushing of the skin, chest tightness or pain,
profuse sweating, a feeling that you are sick to your stomach or that you may
throw up, and a feeling of lightheadedness. In the majority of sufferers, the
feeling of chest tightness precipitates an attack, which leads them to think
they need to call emergency services.
There are different triggers and causes of anxiety attacks. Heredity plays a
part in this and studies have found that panic attacks tend to run in families.
At the same time, people with no family history also develop such attacks, so
the cause cannot be based on heredity alone. Many panic attacks have been
attributed to deficiencies in the diet, such as a deficiency in Vitamin B.
Phobias result from anxiety attacks when a person is exposed to a real threat
over a long period of time.
The use of caffeine can lead to such attacks, especially during the withdrawal
process. Doctors have also found that thyroid problems and
anemia lead to feelings of anxiety that can develop
into full blown attacks the longer the condition goes undiagnosed and untreated.
There are many people who perceive a threat in their everyday life and can
actually talk themselves into an anxiety attack when they worry excessively
about what might happen if an event occurs.
Traumatic experiences in one's life can also be a trigger for such an attack.
Although those who suffer from anxiety attacks feel as if they are going to die,
these feelings are the body's ways of preventing this from happening. When a
trigger occurs, the body starts producing extra adrenaline to prepare it for
strenuous physical activity, such as running, which may be needed to ward off
the threat. This, in turn, increases the heart rate and breathing rate and
increases the amount of perspiration.
When no physical activity occurs or is needed, then these increases in the body
cause hyperventilation as the levels of carbon dioxide increase in the heart and
lungs. This increase in carbon dioxide is the cause of the feelings of
dizziness, nausea, and sensations of numbness in the limbs. Breathing into a
paper bag can help alleviate anxiety attacks, although many experts say it can
be dangerous. Sitting down and taking deep breaths from the abdomen helps to slow down the heart
rate and bring the blood pressure back to acceptable levels, thus reducing the
intensity of the attack.
If anxiety is a problem in your life, there are several ways you can help your
- Keep fit and active
- Eat a well balanced diet
- Don't smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol
- Get help such as counselling
Be Proactive in Taking control of your life