anxiety disorders and panic attacks (2023)

On this page:

  • what is fear
  • Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders
  • Types of Anxiety Disorders:
    • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
    • panic disorder
    • phobias
    • obsessive compulsive disorder
    • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • What is a panic attack?
    • Tips for dealing with a panic attack
  • Tips to help someone with an anxiety disorder
  • When should I get help?
  • treatment
  • Stress and Mental Health Resources

what is fear

We've all felt anxiety at some point - the nervousness before a date, test, competition, presentation - but what exactly is it? Fear is our body's way of preparing for a challenge. Our heart pumps more blood and oxygen, so we are ready for action. We are more alert and perform physical and emotional tasks more efficiently. (See alsotest anxietyfor tips on handling tests.)

(Video) Anxiety Disorders and Panic Attacks: Alison Sommer at TEDxCarletonCollege

It's normal to feel anxious when our safety, health, or happiness is threatened; However, at times, anxiety can become overwhelming and disruptive, and can even occur for no apparent reason. Excessive, persistent bouts of worry may indicate an anxiety disorder.

Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders:

Anyone can experience these symptoms during stressful times. However, individuals with anxiety disorders may experience it without stress, with more severe symptoms, and/or with multiple symptoms occurring together.

  • inability to relax
  • Unrealistic or excessive worry
  • difficulty falling asleep
  • Fast pulse or pounding, jumping, racing heart
  • nausea, chest pain or pressure
  • Feel a lump in your throat
  • Dry mouth
  • Irregular breathing
  • Feelings of fear, apprehension, or loss of control
  • shaking or shaking, sweating or chills
  • fainting or dizziness, feeling of detachment
  • Thoughts of death

Types of Anxiety Disorders:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)is characterized by chronic and excessive worry and tension, much more than the typical anxiety most people experience in their daily lives. People may have tremors, twitching, muscle tension, nausea, irritability, poor concentration, depression, tiredness, headache, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, or hot flashes.

Panic disorder:People with panic disorder have panic attacks with feelings of anxiety that come on suddenly and repeatedly without warning. During attacks, people may feel like they can't breathe, lose control, have a heart attack, or even die. Physical symptoms may include chest pain, dizziness, nausea, sweating, tingling or numbness, and rapid heartbeat. Some people have an isolated attack, while others develop long-term panic disorder; In any case, there is often a great deal of anxiety between attacks because one cannot know when the next one will occur. Panic disorders often begin in early adulthood. Many people with panic disorder also have agoraphobia (abnormal fear of open or public places). See more onpanic attacks.

(Video) What causes panic attacks, and how can you prevent them? - Cindy J. Aaronson

phobiasare irrational fears. Individuals with phobias recognize that their fears are irrational, but thinking about or confronting the feared object or situation can result in a panic attack or severe anxiety.

Phobias are often fears of a specific object or situation. Commonly feared objects and situations in specific phobias are animals, tunnels, water and heights. The most common specific phobia is the fear of public speaking.

social phobia or social anxiety disorder,is characterized by overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-esteem in everyday social situations. People with social phobia fear being judged, embarrassed, or humiliated by others. This fear can interfere with work or school and other usual activities.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)is characterized by uncontrollable anxious thoughts or behaviors. Individuals with OCD are plagued by persistent, unwanted thoughts and images, or by an urgent need to engage in certain rituals. Some OCD sufferers may only have obsessions without the rituals associated with them. The disturbing thoughts or images (e.g., fear of germs) are called obsessions, and the rituals used to try to get rid of them (e.g., washing hands) are called compulsions. For example, people obsessed with germs may wash their hands excessively. The individual is not happy to perform the ritualistic behaviors but finds that this is the only way to get temporary relief from the obsessive thoughts.

(Video) Anxiety disorders / Panic attacks: Patient Education

Post-traumatic stress disorderaffects people after terrible events such as physical or sexual abuse, car accidents, war or natural disasters. Individuals with PTSD may experience depression, flashbacks, nightmares, trouble sleeping, irritability, aggression, violence, and a feeling of detachment or numbness. Symptoms can be triggered by anything that reminds the person of their trauma.

What is a panic attack?

Panic attacks can be caused by heredity, chemical imbalances, stress, and the use of stimulants (such as caffeine or drugs).

Some people only have one or two attacks and are never bothered again. Panic attacks can occur with other psychiatric disorders. However, in panic disorder, the panic attacks return repeatedly and the person develops an intense fear of having another attack. Left unassisted, this "fear of fear" can cause people to avoid certain situations and interfere with their lives, even when they are not having a panic attack. Therefore, it is very important to identify the problem and seek help.

Tips for dealing with a panic attack

(Video) What is Panic Disorder?

(Adapted from "Understanding Panic Disorders", National Institute of Health)

  • Realize that while your symptoms are frightening, they are an exaggeration of normal stress responses and are not dangerous or harmful.
  • Face the feelings instead of fighting them and they become less intense.
  • Don't increase the panic by asking "What if?" Tell yourself "So what?"
  • Stay in the present. Pay attention to what is actually happening, not what you think might happen.
  • Rate your anxiety level on a scale of 1 to 10 and see how it changes. Note that it doesn't stay at a high level for more than a few seconds.
  • Distract yourself with a simple task like counting backwards or lightly tying a rubber band around your wrist.
  • When fear comes, expect it and accept it. Wait and give it time to pass without running away.

Tips to help someone with an anxiety disorder:

  • Don't make any guesses - ask the person what they need.
  • Be predictable - don't surprise the person.
  • Let the person with the disorder set the pace for recovery.
  • Find something positive in every small step toward recovery.
  • Don't help the person avoid their fears.
  • Maintain your own life so you don't annoy the person with the disorder.
  • Don't panic if the person with the disorder panics, but realize that caring for them is natural.
  • Be patient and accept, but don't settle for the fact that the person concerned is permanently disabled.
  • Say words of encouragement like, "You can do it no matter how you feel. I'm proud of you. tell me what you need now Breathe slowly and deeply. stay in the present It's not the place that bothers you, it's that.” thought. I know what you're feeling is painful, but it's not dangerous. You are brave."
  • Avoid saying things like, "Don't worry. Let's see if you can do it. You can fight it. What shall we do next? Don't be ridiculous. you have to stay These phrases tend to blame the person for the fear.

When should I get help?

Some people believe that anxiety disorders can be overcome with willpower, but that's not likely. Untreated anxiety disorders can lead to depression, substance abuse, and a host of other problems. When excessive worry interrupts your normal routine, you should consult a professional.


If you or someone you know has symptoms of an anxiety disorder, see a doctor who can help you determine whether the symptoms are due to an anxiety disorder, a medical condition, or both. Often the next step in getting treatment for an anxiety disorder is referral to a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or counselor.

There are generally two types of treatment available, medication and psychotherapy (sometime called "talk therapy"). Both can be effective for most medical conditions. Choosing one, the other, or both depends on patient and doctor preference, as well as the anxiety disorder at hand.

(Video) Panic disorder - panic attacks, causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment & pathology

For more informations:

SeeStress and Mental Health Resources

UHS Nursing Managercan give additional recommendations and recommendations


How do you explain anxiety and panic attacks? ›

Overview. A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause. Panic attacks can be very frightening. When panic attacks occur, you might think you're losing control, having a heart attack or even dying.

What are 3 coping strategies for anxiety? ›

There are many strategies that can be used for managing anxiety.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
  • Keeping active.
  • Eating well.
  • Spending time outdoors in nature.
  • Spending time with family and friends.
  • Reducing stress.
  • Doing activities you enjoy.

What is the best coping mechanism for anxiety? ›

Here are 11 tips for coping with an anxiety disorder:
  • Keep physically active. ...
  • Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs. ...
  • Quit smoking, and cut back or quit drinking caffeinated beverages. ...
  • Use stress management and relaxation techniques. ...
  • Make sleep a priority. ...
  • Eat healthy foods. ...
  • Learn about your disorder.
Jul 20, 2021

What is the 3 3 3 rule for panic attacks? ›

Follow the 3-3-3 rule.

Look around you and name three things you see. Then, name three sounds you hear. Finally, move three parts of your body — your ankle, fingers, or arm.

What triggers anxiety attacks? ›

Difficult experiences in childhood, adolescence or adulthood are a common trigger for anxiety problems. Going through stress and trauma when you're very young is likely to have a particularly big impact. Experiences which can trigger anxiety problems include things like: physical or emotional abuse.

What type of anxiety causes panic attacks? ›

Phobias provoke panic attacks in some people. Substance-induced anxiety disorder is characterized by symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are a direct result of misusing drugs, taking medications, being exposed to a toxic substance or withdrawal from drugs.

How do you get rid of panic attacks forever? ›

It is not always possible to prevent a panic attack, but the following tips may help:
  1. do breathing exercises every day.
  2. get regular exercise.
  3. follow a diet that is low in added sugar and eat regularly to avoid glucose spikes.
  4. avoid caffeine, smoking, and alcohol, as they may make anxiety worse.

Is anxiety a form of mental illness? ›

Anxiety disorders are the most common of mental disorders and affect nearly 30% of adults at some point in their lives. But anxiety disorders are treatable and a number of effective treatments are available. Treatment helps most people lead normal productive lives.

Can I get over anxiety without medications? ›

The even better news: Many people respond well to anxiety treatment without medication. They find that their condition can often be managed entirely, or at least in part, with lifestyle changes and holistic therapies.

What helped your anxiety the most? ›

Try these when you're feeling anxious or stressed:
  • Take a time-out. ...
  • Eat well-balanced meals. ...
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
  • Get enough sleep. ...
  • Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health. ...
  • Take deep breaths. ...
  • Count to 10 slowly. ...
  • Do your best.
Sep 8, 2010

What helps anxiety naturally? ›

10 natural remedies for anxiety
  • Stay active. ...
  • Steer clear of alcohol. ...
  • Consider quitting smoking cigarettes. ...
  • Limit caffeine intake. ...
  • Prioritize getting a good night's rest. ...
  • Meditate and practice mindfulness. ...
  • Eat a balanced diet. ...
  • Practice deep breathing.

What is the fastest way to overcome anxiety? ›

5 quick ways to cope with anxiety
  1. Question your thought pattern. Negative thoughts can take root in your mind and distort the severity of the situation. ...
  2. Practice focused, deep breathing. ...
  3. Use aromatherapy. ...
  4. Go for a walk or do 15 minutes of yoga. ...
  5. Write down your thoughts.

How do you break a panic cycle? ›

One important step in reversing the anxiety cycle is gradually confronting feared situations. If you do this, it will lead to an improved sense of confidence, which will help reduce your anxiety and allow you to go into situations that are important to you.

What is the 5 5 5 rule for anxiety? ›

First, you may want to start with a simple deep breathing exercise called the 5-5-5 method. To do this, you breathe in for 5 seconds, hold your breath for 5 seconds, and then breathe out for 5 seconds. You can continue this process until your thoughts slow down or you notice some relief.

Is there a pressure point for panic attacks? ›

The great surge pressure point is on your foot, about two or three finger widths below the intersection of your big toe and second toe. The point lies in the hollow just above the bone. This pressure point may help to reduce anxiety and stress.

What are weird symptoms of anxiety? ›

  • ‍Indigestion. Anxiety can cause temporary or even chronic indigestion. ...
  • Phantom ringing. Tinnitus, which is a ringing in the ears, can be a sign of stress or anxiety and can be experienced in several ways. ...
  • Burning sensation. ...
  • Heart irregularities. ...
  • Physical numbness or tingling.
Jun 12, 2019

What are signs of high anxiety? ›

Some common symptoms of high-functioning anxiety include:
  • Constantly overthinking and overanalyzing.
  • Fear of failure and striving for perfection.
  • Insomnia and fatigue.
  • The need to please others and difficulty saying no.
  • Tendency to dwell on past mistakes.
  • Nervous habits such as nail-biting, hair twirling, or leg shaking.
Nov 1, 2021

What can anxiety do to your body? ›

Effects of anxiety on your body
  • a churning feeling in your stomach.
  • feeling light-headed or dizzy.
  • pins and needles.
  • feeling restless or unable to sit still.
  • headaches, backache or other aches and pains.
  • faster breathing.
  • a fast, thumping or irregular heartbeat.
  • sweating or hot flushes.

Can panic disorder be cured? ›

Even though there is not a cure for panic disorder, you can still experience long-term improvements by finding the combination of treatments that is effective for you.

What medications treat panic disorder? ›

FDA-approved medications to treat panic disorder include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), extended-release venlafaxine capsules, and benzodiazepines.
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
Aug 16, 2021

Do panic attacks go away with age? ›

Results: Older patients reported fewer panic symptoms, less anxiety and arousal, less severe PD, lower levels of depression, and higher levels of functioning.

Are panic attacks lifelong? ›

Once treated, panic disorder doesn't lead to any permanent complications.

Is anxiety a chemical imbalance? ›

But researchers don't know exactly what causes anxiety disorders. They suspect a combination of factors plays a role: Chemical imbalance: Severe or long-lasting stress can change the chemical balance that controls your mood. Experiencing a lot of stress over a long period can lead to an anxiety disorder.

What vitamin is good for calming nerves? ›

B-complex, vitamin E, vitamin C, GABA, and 5-HTP are 5 vitamins commonly used to help with anxiety and stress.
Vitamins For Stress Relief
  • B-complex. B-complex contains all eight B vitamins. ...
  • Vitamin E. Vitamin E is a natural antioxidant. ...
  • Vitamin C. ...
  • GABA. ...
  • 5-HTP.

Is anxiety considered a disability? ›

Anxiety disorders like OCD, panic disorders, phobias, or PTSD are considered a disability. Therefore, they can qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Individuals must prove that it is so debilitating that it prevents them from working.

Why won't my anxiety symptoms go away? ›

An anxiety disorder can be caused by multiple factors, such as genetics, environmental stressors and medical conditions. New research also indicates that chronic anxiety symptoms that will not go away can be due to an autoimmune response, triggered by common infections.

What happens if you don't treat anxiety? ›

For the majority of people with undiagnosed or untreated anxiety disorder, there are many negative consequences, for both the individual and society. These include disability, reduced ability to work leading to loss of productivity, and a high risk of suicide.

How do you explain panic attacks to someone who doesn't understand it? ›

When it comes to explaining anxiety, it might be helpful to use the following descriptions:
  1. Panic can sometimes feel like you are physically suffocating. ...
  2. Explain that your panic feels tense or exhausting. ...
  3. There are good days and bad days. ...
  4. Sometimes, panic attacks can cause immense shame.

How do you describe anxiety? ›

Anxiety is a feeling of fear, dread, and uneasiness. It might cause you to sweat, feel restless and tense, and have a rapid heartbeat. It can be a normal reaction to stress. For example, you might feel anxious when faced with a difficult problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision.

Are panic attacks and anxiety attacks the same thing? ›

Anxiety and panic attacks have similar symptoms, causes, and risk factors. But panic attacks tend to be more intense and are often accompanied by more severe physical symptoms. You should contact a healthcare professional if anxiety- or panic-related symptoms are affecting your everyday life.

What is the main symptoms of anxiety? ›

Signs and Symptoms
  • Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge.
  • Being easily fatigued.
  • Having difficulty concentrating.
  • Being irritable.
  • Having headaches, muscle aches, stomachaches, or unexplained pains.
  • Difficulty controlling feelings of worry.
  • Having sleep problems, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep.

Is having anxiety a disability? ›

Anxiety disorders like OCD, panic disorders, phobias, or PTSD are considered a disability. Therefore, they can qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Individuals must prove that it is so debilitating that it prevents them from working.

Are panic attacks purely psychological? ›

Panic attacks

A panic attack occurs when your body experiences a rush of intense psychological (mental) and physical symptoms. You may experience an overwhelming sense of fear, apprehension and anxiety. As well as these feelings, you may also have physical symptoms such as: nausea.

How do you snap out of a panic? ›

Breathing exercise for panic attacks
  1. breathe in as slowly, deeply and gently as you can, through your nose.
  2. breathe out slowly, deeply and gently through your mouth.
  3. some people find it helpful to count steadily from 1 to 5 on each in-breath and each out-breath.
  4. close your eyes and focus on your breathing.

What does living with anxiety feel like? ›

feeling tense, nervous or unable to relax. having a sense of dread, or fearing the worst. feeling like the world is speeding up or slowing down. feeling like other people can see you're anxious and are looking at you.

What are physical symptoms of anxiety called? ›

GAD can also have a number of physical symptoms, including:
  • dizziness.
  • tiredness.
  • a noticeably strong, fast or irregular heartbeat (palpitations)
  • muscle aches and tension.
  • trembling or shaking.
  • dry mouth.
  • excessive sweating.
  • shortness of breath.

What is severe anxiety? ›

Generalized anxiety disorder involves persistent and excessive worry that interferes with daily activities. This ongoing worry and tension may be accompanied by physical symptoms, such as restlessness, feeling on edge or easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension or problems sleeping.

How long to panic attacks last? ›

Most panic attacks last between 5 and 20 minutes. Some have been reported to last up to an hour. The number of attacks you have will depend on how severe your condition is. Some people have attacks once or twice a month, while others have them several times a week.

How do you stop panic attacks fast? ›

Follow these steps:
  1. Find a quiet place to sit or lie down, if possible. ...
  2. Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest.
  3. Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose, and exhale out through your mouth. ...
  4. Notice your hands. ...
  5. Repeat for several minutes or until you feel calm.
Oct 26, 2021

What happens in your body when you have anxiety? ›

When you feel anxious you might have racing thoughts but also physical symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, tense muscles, trembling, a rapid heartbeat, and pain and bloating in your abdomen. These are all the results of the stress response when the body releases cortisol as it prepares for “fight or flight.”

When should you go to the hospital for anxiety? ›

An anxiety emergency or extreme panic attack may require an ER visit if the sufferer is unable to get it under control. Extreme cases of hyperventilation can lead to tachycardia, an occurrence where the heart is beating so fast that it is unable to properly pump blood throughout the body.

How do you calm someone with anxiety? ›

gently let them know that you think they might be having a panic attack and that you are there for them. encourage them to breathe slowly and deeply – it can help to do something structured or repetitive they can focus on, such as counting out loud, or asking them to watch while you gently raise your arm up and down.


1. Panic Attacks and Panic Disorder | DSM-5 Diagnosis, Symptoms and Treatment
(JJ Medicine)
2. Panic Attacks and Panic Disorder
(Demystifying Medicine McMaster)
3. Anxiety Disorders: OCD, PTSD, Panic Attack, Agoraphobia, Phobias, GAD Generalized
(Stomp On Step 1)
4. Panic Disorder: The Symptoms
(National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH))
5. Explain generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety. disorder?
(Premier Health)
6. Living with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Attacks that Feel like Dying
(Special Books by Special Kids)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Rueben Jacobs

Last Updated: 07/23/2023

Views: 6249

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (77 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Rueben Jacobs

Birthday: 1999-03-14

Address: 951 Caterina Walk, Schambergerside, CA 67667-0896

Phone: +6881806848632

Job: Internal Education Planner

Hobby: Candle making, Cabaret, Poi, Gambling, Rock climbing, Wood carving, Computer programming

Introduction: My name is Rueben Jacobs, I am a cooperative, beautiful, kind, comfortable, glamorous, open, magnificent person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.