Ninety-five-percent of Americans experience Anxiety Reactions occasionally while five-percent are battling to survive Anxiety Attacks almost on a daily basis. In which group are you?
There are many symptoms associated with anxiety, anxiety attacks, panic attacks, anxiety disorders, stress disorders, sleep disorders, and depression. And, because we are all unique, based upon physical and mental history, the symptoms and their intensity will vary from person to person.
Symptoms of anxiety attack include shortness of breath, chest discomfort, dizziness, fear of death, or going crazy, nausea or stomach distress, just to mention the most serious symptoms. Not all these symptoms will be present for everyone at any given time because we are all different in our mental and physical makeup.
Each of us experiences different kinds of symptoms during anxiety attacks. Some people mistake anxiety attacks for mental illness because it is a condition that can involve extreme amounts of stress and anxiety. When an attack occurs, the sufferer seems unable maintain any kind of control over thought and action. They are rendered helpless. They think they are going out of their mind.
Are you suffering from an actual anxiety "attack" or just having a normal anxiety "reaction" to a given situation?
Anxiety attacks are the most extreme example of an anxiety reaction. When anxiety reaches a level at which the sufferer experiences symptoms which exceed those experienced during a normal anxiety reaction, an anxiety attack is underway.
For example, when preparing to give a speech, a normal anxiety reaction or an abnormal anxiety attack may occur. The normal person may get "butterflies in the stomach" or experience an intense fear of failure. The normal person pushes through the symptoms and gives the speech.
On the other hand, the person who experiences an anxiety attack is unable to give the speech. They are paralyzed by fear and panic. In fact, just the thought of giving a speech would cause them to refuse to even attempt it. Thus, an anxiety "reaction" is normal for ninety-five-percent of us. An anxiety attack is not for the five-percent among us.
What treatments are available?
Doctors have learned that many medications such as Zoloft or Paxil have a calming effect on the processes that control or trigger anxiety and compulsions. These medications keep hormones and other elements responsible for anxiety attacks balanced, so to speak. They work well in a majority of cases regardless of the type of anxiety, be it panic attacks, social anxiety disorder, or even obsessive compulsive disorder.
Anxiety attacks are also helped with cognitive or behavioral therapy, meaning the learning of new ways of thinking or behaving. If someone can learn that their anxiety attacks are the result of how they think or of how they view some circumstance, then they can lessen these attacks. Learning how to talk themselves through a panic attack or how to calm their obsessive or compulsive behavior can go a long way toward keeping anxiety attacks under control, or at the very least, keeping them in their place so that they have less of an effect on the sufferer.
What are common physical symptoms?
Physical symptoms may cause people who actually have "anxiety sensitivity" to have an anxiety attack. These sufferers tend to panic when they feel their heart beating faster or feel other bodily sensations they consider to be out of the ordinary. Anything that raises the heartbeat can cause them to have an anxiety attack. This includes physical exercise and chemicals such as caffeine and nicotine.
During normal physical exercise, you want to elevate your heart rate, but, if you are prone to anxiety attacks, this should be avoided.
Although anxiety attack symptoms seem threatening - no real threat is actually present - these symptoms occur without an obvious outward cause and, therefore, do not represent reality or something to be truly afraid of. Anxiety attacks are usually not a response to an actual threat but make the sufferer "feel" threatened by an imaginary threat.
Because the sufferer believes there is a real threat, credibility is given to the perceived threat and more anxiety is created. This produces more symptoms and an anxiety cycle is put into motion. In effect, the false reality feeds into a greater false reality and greater fear until a full blown attack is underway.
What can you do?
If you're someone that suffers from anxiety attacks in any form, it's strongly encouraged that you speak with your doctor to determine the actual cause of the attacks or whether you are jusy having a normal reaction and something physical is causing your distress. Many times, symptoms can be an indicator of serious health problems that have nothing to do with anxiety disorder. Only your doctor can make that diagnosis.
If you do have anxiety disorder, medication or therapy are usually indicated. At the very least, you can be put in touch with others who are suffering from the same symptoms in order to get support and encouragement for your condition.
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Conquer anxiety with "The Anxiety Checklist". It's is a free report available at www.jim-desantis.blogspot.com . It's an instant PDF download. No email or signup is required. Jim DeSantis is a retired Pastoral Counselor.
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