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This is what an anxiety attack looks like

Updated on:22 June 2021, 17:00pm IST
Anxiety has become a part and parcel of our lives, especially during the pandemic. But what if you suffer from anxiety attacks every now and then? What are the triggers and how do you cope with them? Read on to know more.
Geetika Sachdev
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You must take care of your mental health to take care of your heart. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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We live in times that are marked by uncertainty and gloom. It is but natural to feel worried and anxious, but has it become a way of life for you? For the uninitiated, anxiety generally happens when a person fears that something wrong is going to happen. In such cases, you are riddled with fear and worry, and that can feel debilitating in certain ways. 

Research suggests that anxiety has been linked to stress. And while it may be a mental health condition, it can present itself in the form of physical symptoms. Several people look at it as a ‘panic attack’, but that is completely different and is a symptom of panic disorder. The symptoms are far more severe in that case. 

But what does anxiety really look like? It can manifest in the form of a racing heart, lightheadedness, chest pain, difficulty in breathing, and having irrational thoughts.

How does it start?

As per research, anxiety can be a response to a specific worry or fear. The symptoms can vary, and go from mild and moderate to severe. Most people believe that when the particular situation is taken care of (the anxiety trigger), things become better. What differentiates anxiety from other conditions is how things often build up, and go on for some time. Unlike panic attacks, things do not escalate as quickly when it comes to anxiety. But if left uncontrolled, it can graduate to panic attacks. 

Also take this quiz: Stressed all the time? Take this quiz to know if you have high-functioning anxiety

Some of the prominent symptoms of anxiety include worry and apprehension, restlessness, sleep problems, difficulty concentrating, irritability, sadness and feeling pressure. The physical symptoms include changes in heart rate, tension in the head or neck, headache, nausea or diarrhea, sweating, dry mouth, tightness in the throat and difficulty breathing, trembling or shaking and feeling faint. It isn’t necessary that you need to have all these symptoms in one go. It all depends on the situation—it could be that an exam brings out moderate symptoms, while an extreme case might show up in the form of severe symptoms. 

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You can’t dismiss the signs of anxiety. Image courtesy: Shuttersock
What are the causes of anxiety?

Some of the most common causes of anxiety include work pressure, financial pressure, family or relationships problems, divorce, separation, or bereavement, concerns about parenthood, life changing situations, reduced mobility, loss of mental function, short-term memory or diagnosis of chronic health conditions. It could be also linked to another factor or health condition like social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or more. It could also be caused by a history of drug or alcohol abuse, or excessive caffeine use. Some recent or past traumatic experience could also trigger anxiety,

Types of anxiety disorder

There are several anxiety disorders:

1. Panic disorder: This is characterised by at least two panic attacks accompanied by the constant fear of future attacks. Those who suffer from this condition may lose a job or even go to the extent of avoiding a trigger they believe may trigger anxiety. 

2. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): This is a constant state of worry about a number of events or activities in the person’s life.

3. Phobic disorder: As the name suggests, this disorder is linked to a phobia. For example, a fear of spiders or open spaces.

4. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): As part of this condition, unwanted repeated thoughts and behaviors are common. 

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Recognise the type of anxiety disorder you have in order to manage it. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Here’s how you can manage anxiety

First of all, it is essential to know the signs and recognise what you feel. If you think they are beyond your control, it is essential to seek professional help. Also, when you know your triggers, it becomes easier to ask for help.

Also, in the fast-paced world that we live in, we often forget to pay attention to our diet and exercise. Try to take some time off and do things for yourself. Eat a healthy diet and move your body.

You could also adopt various relaxation techniques including yoga breathing, meditation, and other strategies that can help reduce stress and anxiety. What’s more, trying a new activity is also a great idea – it could be anything from music, meditation, gardening, yoga, pilates, or anything else that makes you feel good. 

If nothing helps, it is important to seek medical intervention.

Geetika Sachdev Geetika Sachdev

An independent writer and journalist, Geetika loves sharp and fresh humour, just like her coffee! If not writing, you'll find her cafe-hopping and raiding the best book stores in town.