The signs of an anxiety attack usually come with no forewarning. One minute everything is normal, the next you can’t help but notice extreme anxiousness.
It’s common for anyone to be anxious about a new job, a public speaking engagement, or an important test. However, with an anxiety disorder we have no way of knowing why we suddenly experience an anxiety attack.
Even though the signs are personal and different for each individual, here are 5 common symptoms of an anxiety attack.
1. Sudden Terror or Sense of Impending Doom
Suddenly becoming engulfed in terror or a sense of impending doom for absolutely no recognizable reason is probably the most common sign that you are experiencing an anxiety attack.
When I first started having anxiety attacks I would react with even more fear to what was happening, therefore multiplying the effects.
I could be almost to the point of being paralyzed from not knowing what was going on in and around me. The adrenaline would flood through my body as my mind reacted to what it was perceived as immediate danger.
After years of both anxiety and panic attacks, I would fairly quickly recognize what was happening and wait it out. But it still took years for me to learn how to overpower these feelings, and stop them from coming — without medication.
2. Thinking it Could Be a Heart Attack
Many people experience chest pains either at the beginning of an attack or during.
Because most anyone is quick, and rightfully so, to relate chest pains to a heart attack — this is the first thing that comes to mind when you’re new to full blown anxiety attacks.
In fact, I was hospitalized with a weeks worth of test because of these attacks. Only to be told “oh, it was probably just anxiety”?
A bout of severe anxiety can definitely make you think you’re having a heart attack. So, I can’t stress enough how important it is to get checked out by a doctor. Not doing so could lead to death or severe consequences.
Once a heart attack is ruled out, you will be in a better position to actually deal with your anxiousness from a conscious point of view. Without imagination and doubts getting thrown into the mix you won’t make the physical symptoms even worse.
3. Finding it Difficult to Breathe
Like the other signs I list here, difficulty with breathing is common for “beginners” and extreme attacks.
You may find yourself struggling to get breath and thinking you must gasp in air.
When your anxiety levels are extremely high it’s likely you’ll add even more “real” fear to what’s going on — causing hyperventilation. When this happens there can be an imbalance of carbon dioxide levels going on in your body due to lack of oxygen.
It only makes sense that with the possible chest pains and lack of breath, you would start to feel dizzy and become aware of your heart beating faster and faster.
4. Experiencing a Racing Heart
Once you understand what an anxiety attack really is, there will be no wonder your heart races.
Even though there is no real threat of danger, your subconscious mind has no way of knowing that. So, because your mind and body is responding as if you are facing imminent danger — of course your heart races.
For some reason part of your mind suddenly activates a built in fight or flight syndrome in your body with a rush of adrenaline.
Now, what was only going on in your subconscious mind becomes real physical bodily responses.
Your body is suddenly surging with hormones that are causing a host of other symptoms that includes an increased heart rate.
This surge in hormones causes many symptoms, including an increased heart rate, which can make you think that you are suffering from a heart attack.
5. Thinking You Are Losing Control
For me, this feeling like I am losing control of my immediate circumstances was the worst symptom, and only made things worse.
Because all anxiety disorders stem from the subconscious mind delivering a false message of fear of some sort, fear is the base of the attack.
Your body is put into the fight or flight mode without your permission, knowledge of what’s going on, or why it’s happening.
But all the symptoms of any fight or flight response are present.
Because all of this is happening and you don’t know why, the fear that the anxiety attack itself is bringing is now heightened drastically.
And you can feel completely disconnected from your true self! In fact, you can quite well find yourself feeling distorted and mentally foggy.
In my own life I have no idea the difference between an anxiety attack and a panic attack — other than the severity of the signs.
The way I could personally make the distinction was that with what I called a panic attack, it always came with the definite “feeling” that I was in the process of dying.
I refer to my own anxiety attacks that weren’t panic as being a more normal state of anxiousness multiplied by hundreds or thousands. My own “anxiety attacks” came in my head as severe unsettling and in my chest and stomach as some sort of internal severe itching sensation.
As these symptoms grew, my fear that it would get larger and that I had no way to stop it — only served to make all the symptoms worse.
We as human beings have had built into us from the beginning of time the fight or flight syndrome. The signs that you are having an anxiety attack is always your mind alerting you are facing imminent and immediate danger.
The key to getting your life back is to learn to sit still and as quickly as possible know that the signals are not real at the moment. There are in fact several different natural anxiety remedies that really work.
For myself, I am against taking mood altering anxiety medications, and know that natural methods are effective. However, if you are dealing with any of these signs of an anxiety attack, the most important thing is to do something.
I think it far more important to stop anxiety attacks and get your life back than to quibble over how to do it.
Please feel free to leave a comment and tell us about your own experience with anxiety attacks.