Symptoms of an Anxiety Attack

By Michele C. Hollow  @YourCareE
July 20, 2023
Symptoms of an Anxiety Attack

Being anxious is not a bad thing. In moderation, anxiety keeps your alert and focused. But when anxiety controls your life, you need to take action.

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld jokes, “People’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Does that seem right? That means to the average person, if you have to go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

Jane Friedman often repeats that joke when she gives a lecture at her local Toastmaster’s meeting. “It tends to relax some of our new members,” she explains. “Most people are nervous when they get up to speak for the first or one-hundred-and-first time. We learn to use those jitters to our advantage.”


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The effect of stress

That’s a good example of stress. Anxiety, however, pushes you beyond the ability to cope. It can affect your personal relationships, work, and social lives to the point where you can’t function properly. That’s when anxiety goes into the realm of a disorder, and you need help.


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Symptoms of an anxiety attack

  1. You’re constantly worried to the point where it’s overwhelming.
  2. You are so consumed with anxiety that you can’t work or focus on day-to-day activities.
  3. You have irrational thoughts that you can’t shake.
  4. You believe something bad is going to happen.
  5. Your anxiety takes hold of you so much that you avoid interactions with others and want to stay in bed all day.
  6. Your heart pounds, you sweat excessively, and you have shortness of breath.
  7. You have trouble sleeping and feel tense or irritable.
  8. Your stomach is upset, or you have headaches or dizziness.
  9. You have frequent diarrhea.
  10. You feel depressed.

Anxiety attacks, also called panic attacks, usually occur suddenly and without warning. The attacks can last between 10 and 30 minutes. Even a short episode can be frightening.

The good news is that anxiety attacks can be treated successfully. The first step is talking to your doctor. Get a checkup and talk about why you feel anxious. If you don’t know, explain that, too.  

If you see a general practitioner, you may want to get a recommendation for a therapist who specializes in treating anxiety disorders. A psychiatrist can prescribe medication to manage your anxiety attacks. Prozac is often used to treat anxiety. It’s part of a group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs are typically used as antidepressants for the treatment of major depressive disorders and anxiety attacks.

Your therapist may also recommend stress management skills, such as meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises. Walking, running, or other aerobic exercises can also be part of your treatment. Aerobic exercise relieves stress.

You may be asked to cut down on your caffeine and alcohol intake because both can increase anxiety. Getting a good night’s sleep and going to bed at the same time every night can be helpful, too.


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July 20, 2023

Reviewed By:  

Janet O’Dell, RN