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. 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.
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