What you are feeling?….. Understanding the symptoms.
If you suffer from either an Anxiety disorder or a Phobia then Anxiety is what you experience.
It may be; at a low level and persistent in which case it is CHRONIC (GENERALISED ANXIETY)
or experienced severely and at an extreme level i.e. ACUTE ANXIETY or PANIC ATTACK. The two symptoms are not always exclusive but may merge with each other.
ACUTE ANXIETY or Panic Attack
The official definition is; a discrete period of intense fear or discomfort in which four or more of the following symptoms develop abruptly and peak within ten minutes.
Everybody who has experienced a panic attack will be terribly familiar with many or all of these symptoms. The exact pattern is individual, not always the same and often doesn’t fit neatly into the ‘label’. But it is frightening, horrible, often perplexing and definitely not wished to be re-experienced. Even the fear of experiencing an attack again leads to severe worry and avoidance of situations.
PALPITATIONS Heart races faster and pounds
SWEATING Sweat breaks out
SHAKING Hands and body tremble and shake
BREATHLESSNESS Sensation of being unable to breath properly
CHOKING Feeling that throat closing off, being throttled.
NAUSEA Feeling of sickness and of wanting to vomit
DIZZINESS, LIGHT-HEADEDNESS Disorientation and light-headedness.
FEAR OF LOSS OF CONTROL Fear of losing control/consciousness and appearing foolish.
FEAR OF DYING Fearingsymptoms will lead to death(or indicate illness)
PARAESTHESIA(S) Tingling –usually in extremities –hands, feet
HOT FLUSHES / CHILLS Skin flushes feels hot then may feel cold and clammy.
The signs and symptoms of a panic attack develop abruptly and usually reach their peak within 10 minutes.
Most panic attacks end within 20 to 30 minutes, rarely lasting much longer.
Panic attacks can happen anywhere and at any time. You may have one whilst shopping, walking down the street, driving in your car, or sitting at home.
It is possible to have more than one panic attack on the same day
Most of the symptoms of a panic attack are physical, and may even be so severe that people think fear they’re losing control, or they’re having a heart attack or even risk dying. Physically, though panic attacks are harmless.
Psychologically, however, the effects of the experience are very intrusive and life-affecting and can leave a lasting imprint. The memory of the intense fear and terror that you felt during the attacks can negatively impact your self-confidence. If you associate certain activities or environments with the onset of a panic attack (no matter how misguidedly) you will increasingly attempt to avoid them.
Your ‘fear of the fear’ becomes the dominant emotion guiding your life, so that even when not experiencing panic you become anxious and tense fearing panic attacks. This is anticipatory anxiety.
Phobic avoidance best describes the anxiety/panic associated specifically with exposure to certain environments or objects (Phobias)
CHRONIC or Generalised Anxiety
Generalised Anxiety Disorder is characterised by a low-level, persistent anxiety. It is distinguished from; Acute Anxiety which is of short duration and maybe very intense but is time-limited or Phobic disorder which has its specific triggers resulting in the symptoms of panic attack.
This anxiety is less intense than a panic attack, but much longer lasting, making normal life and relaxation difficult or for some, impossible.
A constant feeling of unease, worry, and dread of events becoming awful or even catastrophic, dominates your waking thoughts. This chronic worrying; drains your energy, interferes with sleep, and wears your body out. You can become irritable, restless, and can’t concentrate.
You feel the worrying is uncontrollable, intrusive and prevents you from enjoying life. Often there may be physical symptoms such as stomach problems, nausea, and diarrhoea. Muscle tension leads to headaches and fatigue (and further worries about personal illness). It is often the result of Chronic Stess, whch maybe job-related or home related.
It is hard to remember that worry and anxiety are normal responses when confronted by many life situations and only when it is excessive and interfering with everyday life is it regarded as a problem. Some individuals seem to have an in-built ‘nervous’ character, others are more ‘laid-back and so respond to life events very differently.