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Recognizing the Symptoms of an Anxiety Attack

Aug 17, 2007
The symptoms of an Anxiety Attack aren't always easy to recognize. The attacks themselves can be confusing as well as producing an intense "undefined" fear, often accompanied by severe discomfort and one or more physical symptoms. You can easily find yourself asking, "am I having an anxiety attack or not?"

To add to this confusion, anxiety symptoms can appear very similar to symptoms of an actual physical health problem, such as a heart attack or asthma. In fact, it is not uncommon to feel absolutely "convinced" that you have a debilitating illness or disease, when the actually problem is anxiety.

Some of the most common symptoms of an anxiety attack include:

1. Rapid heart beat
2. Shortness of breath
3. Dizziness/feeling light-headed
4. Fear of being "out of control"
5. Heart palpitations
6. Sudden sweating
7. Upset stomach
8. Tingling in the hands or feet
9. Feelings of being "out of touch" with the world around you
10. Shaking
11. A feeling of being "trapped"

On average, symptoms of an anxiety attack rarely last longer than 20-30 minutes, and often begin fading in 5 minutes or less. And even though they are not usually considered to be physically harmful, over time the accumulative affects of these attacks can severely decrease the sufferer's quality of life, and even weaken the immune system.

Along with the physical symptoms, anxiety attacks are most often accompanied by a feeling of "doom" or hopelessness. Sufferers may also feel very self-conscious and begin comparing themselves negatively with others. As a result of this, some anxiety attack sufferers will develop low self-esteem and a poor self image. Likewise, many sufferers attempt to hide the anxiety problem from friends and loved-ones, or even feel ashamed of themselves because they sufferer with this problem (blaming the victim).

Repeated anxiety attacks can develop into a real health problem that needs to be treated. Seeing a counselor can help the individual understand what is causing the anxiety. A great many people also benefit by learning relaxation techniques-for example, breathing exercises and bio-feedback are both beneficial in decreasing anxiety.

In more severe cases, medical treatment may be advised as a temporary measure, though many experts do not recommend "medicating the problem" as a long-term solution. A more practical long-term solution may be a combination of relaxation techniques and a change of lifestyle and learning to "work through" the anxiety.

An excellent first step is for the sufferer to refuse to see themselves as a "victim" of anxiety, instead taking full responsibility for their situation (again, without blaming themselves). As an individual begins to understanding that they have a great deal of power over the anxiety attacks and their response to them, anxiety often loses much of its power over them.

Being honest about your anxiety situation is also extremely helpful. "Coming out of the closet" as an anxiety sufferer can be like taking a heavy load off your shoulders. Sufferers get a great feeling of relief when they decide to be honest about their anxiety issues, and friends and loved-ones are often more supportive about this problem than you might think.

Odds are, there are people around you who also have "hidden" anxiety problems, and your honesty could inspire them to "come out" as well.
About the Author
Jon Mercer is a personnal development coach and the founder of www.easycalm.com, a leading anxiety resource site. Can you REALLY Eliminate Anxiety Attacks Without Struggling? Watch this free video-the answer may surprise you!
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