Anxiety Disorders - Symptoms of Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Dr. Purushothaman
September 24, 2013

Anyone can get an anxiety or panic attack; finding yourself at a very high place where you may fall down for instance, or getting stuck in an elevator will cause anyone to feel panic and anxiety.
These attacks become a problem though when one starts to experience frequent episodes that often come without cause, without warning and are quickly over. The symptoms of anxiety or panic attacks will not be very different from those that you would feel under a normal panic situation, but it's important to know them especially if you have been experiencing what may be pointing at an anxiety disorder.
When one is experiencing a panic attack, they have had a sudden fight or flight reaction, the one that they would normally have under extremely fearful situations but in this case without any trigger. This fight or flight reaction can be used to explain all the symptoms biologically. In this article, we will look at the most common symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks and how they relate to the fight or flight reaction:
1. Shortness of breath
This is the first thing that people who suffer panic attacks will tell you that they feel. They feel a shortness of breath. They may describe it as a feeling of shallow breathing, so that no matter how deeply they draw air, they feel it isn't getting into their lungs as it should. During a fight or flight reaction, the blood vessels constrict, including the ones that control your respiratory system. All the blood is rushed to the muscles where it will help you to either fight or run. After the episode is over, everything goes back to normal.
2. Palpitations
You have been scared in your life, and you know the feeling. You heart is pounding so hard and to you it sounds so loud. This happens as the body prepares either to run or put up a fight. It needs to distribute as much blood as it can to the relevant muscles, and your heart is the main pump. The pump has to work harder to make sure that all these muscles are well supplied and ready. Sometimes, a combination of the tightening of muscles and the rapid heart beat may cause chest pain.
3. Trembling and shaking
Once your muscles reach a certain point of tension that they are not used to, they give way and that's what causes trembling. They become weaker than they initially were after the wave of fear has passed through you. They may have held during the real or perceived danger, but right after that you will tremble. Many of us have experienced the feeling of trembling long after the threat is gone.
4. Feeling a loss of control, like you will pass out or die
This is one of the symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks where it's not clear what exactly causes this, but it may be the body's response to a pent-up preparation for fight or flight, and then finally having a release. Your mind can see that there is no real danger but your body is reacting like there is.
All these symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks can be controlled. There are medications on the market that will reduce their manifestation so that you are able to deal with them much better. Don't hesitate to seek medical help, because although they are symptoms that come and go, they could be pointing to a more serious anxiety disorder.

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