7 Signs You’re Having an Anxiety Attack
It’s entirely normal to experience occasional anxiety. Work, school, relationships, finances, deadlines, uncertainties, you name it—life can offer up stress enough to occasionally churn stomach acids and render some sleepless nights.
Occasional anxiety, however, is quite different from an anxiety attack. Those who experience anxiety attacks will tell you they are awful, vivid and frightening.
Identifying anxiety attacks when they occur can be key in countering them. Here are seven signs you can keep an eye out for which may signal an attack:
- A rapid heartbeat. A racing heart beat is a common symptom associated with anxiety attacks. Most people will feel this in their chest rather than by actually testing their heart rate via a pulse point.
- Shortness of breath. If you realize you are panting or taking rapid, shallow breaths, this can be a sign you’re having an anxiety attack. You may feel the sensation of pressure or a weight on your chest or as if you cannot inhale to your full lung capacity.
If you experience either of these first two signs, you may be able to counter the symptoms by employing some intentional breathing exercises. Try concentrating on your breathing, listen to the air flowing in and out of your body. Take deep breaths. Inhale through your nose and exhale out of your mouth. Perhaps even count—inhale, count to five, exhale. Gently slow your breathing.
- Tightness in your stomach. A feeling of a ball or fist in the pit of your stomach can be a sign of an anxiety attack. This uncomfortable symptom of a panic attack is physically the same thing which happens in an actual life-threatening situation, as fear provokes our bodies towards a fight-or-flight response to danger.
- Dizziness, tingling, changes in blood-pressure. Many symptoms of an anxiety attack are due to an increase in blood pressure. As a result, you may experience dizziness or a tingling sensation in your arms, hands and fingers.
- Feeling like you’re losing control. Feeling out of control is something that many people experience at the onset of an anxiety attack.
If you experience any of these last three signs, in addition to breathing exercises you may find it helpful to ground yourself with your sense of touch. Rubbing something textured like carpet, wood, a stone with your hands, or perhaps caressing a pet can relieve some of anxiety’s symptoms.
- Chills or sweating. Getting the chills, shivering, or the opposite, sweating in the palms of your hands, armpits or arms are signs you may be having a panic attack.
- Muscle tension. Muscular tightness in your neck, shoulders and upper back can also be signs of having an anxiety attack. It’s not uncommon for people having an anxiety attack to end up in the emergency room thinking they’re having a heart attack.
If you experience either of these last two signs, in addition to breathing exercises and grounding yourself, you may try this little game to counter symptoms: Spend a few moments concentrating on your immediate surroundings. Identify:
- 5 things that you can see
- 4 things you can touch
- 3 things you can hear
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste.
Do you recognize these signs of anxiety in your life or in someone you love? At Honey Lake Clinic, we understand—and we’re here to help.
There is good news—Anxiety attacks and their symptoms can be successfully treated with the right information, help, and support. With treatment, many people get back to a fulfilling life.