What is an Anxiety Attack?

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Attack is a strong word, so it’s natural to be at least a little intimidated when asking what is an anxiety attack? An anxiety attack is an episode of intense panic or fear that onsets very suddenly and causes significant mental distress for the individual. It’s also true that there can be a specific reason that triggers your anxiety attack, but they can also occur for no clear reason at all. And as far as what is an anxiety attack like? Well for many people it’s a feeling of intense stimulation – but not in a good way. Along with the answer to what is an anxiety attack we also have to relate that many people having them feel like they’re going to have a heart attack.

Now of course that doesn’t happen, but the feeling of being extremely unwell can also include tremors, profuse sweating, headaches and more. We’ll also look at what do when someone has a heart attack here, and the good news there is that most people can get over their anxiety attack without too much trouble. However, most people who are prone to anxiety attacks tend to have them at least somewhat regularly.

More good news is in the fact that there are medications that are effective for anxiety, and ones that can be used to prevent the severity and frequency of anxiety attacks. We’ll look at those as part of what exactly is an anxiety attack here too.

Anxiety Attack Symptoms

Perhaps the best way to look at what is an anxiety attack like is to share the most common anxiety attack symptoms. They will differ from person to person, but ones that are experience by most people include:

  • A surge of overwhelming panic
  • Feeling that you may lose consciousness
  • Feeling that you are losing control, or ‘going crazy’
  • Heart palpitations or chest pain
  • Hyperventilation
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Hot flashes or chills
  • Feeling of being detached from reality
  • Nausea or stomach cramps
  • Types of Anxiety Disorders

Most Common Types of Anxiety Disorders, and Symptoms Specific to Each

1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Most discussions of what is an anxiety attack will start with a mention of generalized anxiety disorder. That’s because it’s the one that affects the largest amount of people, and it also can be triggered by a wide array of influences for many people. People with generalized anxiety disorder tend to worry ‘all the time’ and what is an anxiety attack like here involved more mild symptoms – restlessness, agitation, insomnia, upset stomach, and fatigue.

2. Panic Attacks and Panic Disorder

It’s probably fair to say that the most important time to know what to when someone is having an anxiety attack is when that anxiety attack is a panic attack. That’s because by their very nature these types of anxiety attacks involve a lot dangerously heightened responses, and can include hysteria in the worst cases. Panic attacks can be in response to any number of triggers as well. For example, a person who has agoraphobia may sometimes be fine in crowded public places, but then one instance of it will ‘set them off’ and cause them to panic.

3. Social Anxiety Disorder

This anxiety disorder is increasingly common these days, and it involves constant fears about being seen negatively in public by other people, or being humiliated by them there. For most people this results in them shying away from interaction with people is public social situations, and other people experience it as performance anxiety – which is when they have irrational and overbearing concerns about what others will think about what they are observed doing.

4. Separation Anxiety Disorder

With an answer to what is an anxiety attack firmly in place, our last most common type of these disorders here is separation anxiety disorder. The best way to put this one understandably is to give the example of a puppy who has their owner stay home from work to attend to them for the first few weeks after they come home for the first time. All is well until the morning when the dog owner goes back to work – and the puppy is beside themselves with crying and scratching at the door because their nurturer isn’t around anymore.

It works much the same way for humans in the elemental sense, and especially so for children when they’re away from their parents or even their friends for an extended period of time.

Effective Medications for Treating Anxiety

As mentioned earlier, the good news that comes along with knowing what is an anxiety attack is there are a number of pharmaceutical medications that physicians will prescribe for people suffering from anxiety. One of the more common ones that is designed to take on anxiety specifically is Buspar. It works by regulating and reorienting neurotransmitter balances in the brain that go out of balance for people with anxiety.

Many antidepressant medications can also work to relieve anxiety symptoms for people. Paxil and Lexapro are two of the most common ones that doctors will prescribe for people suffering from anxiety disorders based on their symptoms and medical treatment history.

These are only 3 of many different medications that are used for anxiety. One of the other things that is helpful for people to know is that anxiety can be reduced with some very specific therapeutic approaches.

Therapeutic Approaches for Anxiety Relief

CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) involves using mindfulness practices that work to change your thinking and perception to allow you to better deal with adverse thoughts. It’s helpful for treating anxiety, and it is increasingly recommended by mental health care professionals. If you know what an anxiety attack is like, you’ll know that it’s important to find ways to mediate the severity of them. CBT can help, so look into it.

Another good choice is one that’s less well known, but similarly effective. It’s TFT (thought field therapy), or ‘tapping’ as it’s also referred to. It involves pressure point taps on areas of the body that redirect energy through meridians in the body to overcome mental distresses. It’s also highly recommended, and there is a specific algorithm for treating anxiety.

Don’t dismiss either of these as ‘quack’ remedies. They’re both excellent choices and especially so when paired with a medication for treating anxiety.


IMPORTANT NOTE: The above information is intended to increase awareness of health information and does not suggest treatment or diagnosis. This information is not a substitute for individual medical attention and should not be construed to indicate that use of the drug is safe, appropriate, or effective for your pet. See your veterinarian for medical advice and treatment for your pet if you have any concerns.


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