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Anxious About Anxiety

Anxiety is a part of life. It is normal to feel anxious before an exam, before a job interview or before any big day in life. It keeps one on their toes. But if it becomes a hindrance to daily life, it may have developed into a disorder. For people with anxiety disorder, the feeling of fear or worry does not go away and may even worsen for some.

This prolonged overwhelming feeling of fear, panic and/or worry is called an attack. Some may say that this is only ‘in the mind’. However, doctors might say otherwise.

There are three main types of anxiety attacks namely panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder. Each type has a distinct set of signs and symptoms and treatment.

Signs and Symptoms of each type

It is important to identify the type in order to correctly address it. Therefore, knowledge on the signs and symptoms of the different types is essential. The signs and symptoms listed below may, however, differ from person to person.

Panic Disorder is characterized by palpitations, accelerated heart rate, pounding heart, trembling, shaking, excessive sweating and shortness of breath. Some people may even experience choking and smothering in some instances.

Individuals who have experienced past episodes of panic disorder may have intense and repeated attacks of fear. There may also be a feeling of the worry of when the next attack may happen and a fear of the place where the previous attack happened.

Those people experiencing generalized anxiety disorder may feel restless, wound-up and/or on the edge. They may also feel irritable and tensed. They also have a difficult time going to sleep. Because of the lack of sleep, most people experiencing a generalized anxiety disorder are also easily fatigued and distracted.

Individuals with social anxiety disorder are very awkward around other people. The disorder is also called as ‘social phobia’. Hence, those who are experiencing this one feel highly anxious and conscious when in a large crowd. They are easily overwhelmed at the sight of a crowd. They tend to worry when a big event is impending. Those with this disorder usually opt to stay on the sidelines during big events and may experience profuse sweating, blushing and trembling around people. Other patients may even experience nausea.

These signs and symptoms usually peak within 10 minutes and last 20 to 30 minutes.


The cause of panic disorders and panic attacks are still unclear, however, some studies suggest that it is hereditary. The signs and symptoms of panic attacks and disorders may be caused by the following diseases so it is important that the doctor rules out the following first:

  1. Medication withdrawal
  2. Hypoglycemia
  3. High blood pressure
  4. Stimulant use (cocaine, caffeine, amphetamine)
  5. Hyperthyroidism
  6. Mitral valve prolapse

Self-help tips

Anxiety attacks may occur anytime and a doctor or a medical facility may not be present during such time. The following are some self-help tips during a panic attack episode.

  1. Do relaxation techniques

Relaxation techniques such as muscle relaxation, meditation, and deep breathing exercises will help a lot in calming yourself down. Practice these relaxation techniques every so often.

  1. Lessen caffeine, nicotine and alcohol intake

Caffeine is a stimulant. It is, therefore, advisable to cut down on the intake. Some doctors even advise to completely cut it off from your system. Stimulants, as its name suggests, stimulates the brain and may make the attacks worse. Nicotine and alcohol also work similarly. Hence, it would be wise to completely cut these products from your system permanently.

  1. Sleep

Get a good night’s sleep. This is a cardinal rule in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

  1. Exercise

Exercise is not only a way to lose weight and stay fit. It is also a good way to help you from keeping the anxiety away. When one exercise, the body releases endorphins also called as happy hormones. Try to at least get 30 minutes to one hour worth of exercise every other day.

  1. Talk it out with others

Those suffering from a social anxiety disorder may have a hard time facing crowds, but it is advisable to try and talk with one or two confidantes about the struggles he is having. This will help him overcome this feeling. A support group is essential in these types of disorders.



Aside from the aforementioned self-help tips, there are also medications that can help treat the signs and symptoms of panic disorders and attacks. Physicians usually prescribe antidepressants such as Benzodiazepines and beta-blockers. There are also therapy sessions such as cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy.

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