We all feel anxious from time to time. It is a natural reaction where we feel apprehension, uncertainty, or fear in anticipation of an event, situation or circumstance that we consider to be threatening. However, some people can develop feelings of anxiety that are so intense and overwhelming that they result in a feeling of “losing control.” These episodes are commonly referred to as an anxiety (or panic) attack.
An anxiety attack usually occurs without warning and has no obvious cause. It may even wake a person from their sleep. In addition to an incredible feeling of fear, anxiety attacks are potentially accompanied by many other symptoms such as:
- Palpitations, pounding heart or accelerated heart rate
- Trembling or shaking
- Sensations of shortness of breath
- Feelings of choking
- Chest Pain
- Dizziness, light-headed, or feeling aint
- Feeling detached from reality
Since each person is different and chemically unique, an anxiety attack can affect each person differently. One person may experience only a few minor symptoms while another may have many symptoms with much greater severity.
An attack can last anywhere from a few moments to over an hour. The length of the attack is usually determined by how frightened the individual is. While the symptoms of an anxiety attack can seem very powerful, they are typically not harmful.
Although the exact causes of these attacks are unclear, the tendency to have them runs in families. There also appears to be a connection with major life transitions such as graduating from college, getting married, or having a baby. Severe stress, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, or job loss can also trigger a panic attack. In some cases, panic attacks can be caused by medical conditions and other physical causes. If you’re suffering from symptoms of panic, it’s important to see a doctor to rule out an underlying medical issue.
The good news is that these attacks are treatable. They can usually be managed successfully with self-help strategies or a series of therapy sessions. To make an appointment with a mental health professional at Flushing Hospital’s Mental Health Clinic, please call 718-670-5562.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.