Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Have You Experienced an Anxiety Attack?
Anxiety is our natural reaction to stress or danger. It is also known as the ‘fight or flight response’, where adrenaline rapidly pumps into your body, readying you to respond to a potentially life threatening situation. An anxiety attack can occur when this response is out of proportion to the actual danger.
This can be when you’re engaged in a normal action, such as driving a car into town. It may also be generated when there is no danger present at all, such as becoming anxious and panicky around food, or cotton wool for example.
People suffering with an anxiety attack is a very common experience. In 2013, there were 8.2 million cases of anxiety in the UK (reported in Fineberg, N. et al (2013). The size, burden and cost of disorders of the brain in the UK. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 27(9), pp.761-770.)
Anxiety is a normal, expected, and common experience in life. It comes from worrying, which can usefully lead you to effective planning and making positive, healthy choices. It makes sense to worry when you can change a potentially negative outcome into a positive one. Worrying about a health issue for example can lead you to taking positive steps to heal the problem.
But anxiety can also become a big problem when it gets out of control. Here are some of the anxiety disorders that people can experience.
General Anxiety Disorder – GAD
GAD is an excessive anxiety or worry, occurring more days than not, and is difficult to control.
It is experienced as restlessness, feeling on-edge, fatigued, with difficulty in concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbance.
The symptoms are not due to a substance, or a general medical condition. Nearly 6% of the population experienced these symptoms regularly (Mental Health Foundation, 2016).
This is where you feel anxiety about being in a place or situation from which escape might be difficult or embarrassing, or in which help may not be available in the event of having an anxiety attack, or panicking.
Specific situations are then avoided, or are endured with marked distress, or sometimes require the presence of a companion.
This is a fear of one or more social situations in which you are in the presence of people you don’t know, or you feel you are being scrutinised and judged. In this situation, you fear that you will be humiliated and embarrassed.
There is an avoidance, anxiety or distress, with fear arising in a social situation which interferes significantly with your normal routine.
A Panic Attack
This is where you can experience a period of intense fear or discomfort, in which some of the following symptoms develop abruptly, and reach a peak within around 10 minutes.
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling of choking
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Feeling dizzy
- Feelings of unreality
- Fear of dying
- Numbness or tingling
- Chills or hot flushes.
There will be triggers to these attacks where you respond with panic, because the situation is interpreted as much more dangerous than it really is. This is not a conscious or logical response.
What makes things more intense it that the anxiety symptoms are an additional source of perceived danger, producing a serious of vicious circles which further contribute to the maintenance of the problem. You panic about having a panic attack, as well as the initial panic from the trigger, whatever that was.
It’s important to recognize when anxiety and panic attacks are becoming a problem in your life, because they are something that can be altered. If your anxiety or panic is starting to affect many areas of your life, or if it is not getting better, it’s time for professional help.
Counselling can help you to sort through what you’re experiencing, so you can find a sense of relief.
To arrange your first session simply call us on 01206 841650, 07949 392248, or send us a message here.