An anxiety attack, also known as a panic attack, is a sudden and intense episode of fear and apprehension that can be overwhelming and debilitating. The symptoms of an anxiety attack can vary from person to person, but typically include some combination of the following:
- Physical symptoms: Racing heartbeat, shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, sweating, trembling or shaking, dizziness or lightheadedness, nausea or stomach upset.
- Psychological symptoms: Intense fear or dread, feeling like you’re going to die, feeling detached from reality, feeling like you’re losing control or going crazy, feeling like you’re suffocating or choking.
- Behavioral symptoms: Avoiding situations that trigger anxiety, seeking reassurance from others, engaging in repetitive behaviors (such as hand-washing or checking), or having a strong urge to flee.
Anxiety attacks can be triggered by a variety of things, including stressful situations, social interactions, specific phobias, or even seemingly benign activities like driving or shopping. They typically last for several minutes to an hour, but can feel much longer. While anxiety attacks can be distressing, they are not life-threatening and can be managed with the right treatment, such as therapy, medication, or relaxation techniques.