What does an Anxiety Attack Feel Like?


Have you ever had an anxiety attack?

The feel like your heart is literally about to detach from your chest. I am trying to find a better narrative to describe this but if you have had one, then you certainly have an idea. Your body feels like it is crawling out of your skin, you experience tense muscles, trembling, shaking, nausea, you name it.

The worst of them all, in my opinion is that chocking sensation, headache, numbness, palpitations and the feeling like you are about to pass out. Anxiety is your bodies’ response to a trigger, so it’s either a fight or flight. Ever gotten stuck in a lift?

Anxiety is simply worry, nervousness or a general apprehension about something, whose outcome one is uncertain about. There are times when you may have a deep inkling that something is about to happen even if you cannot quite point a finger at it.


It is estimated that approximately 20% of the population is likely to experience an anxiety attack at one time of their lives. An anxiety attack is mostly mistaken for a heart attack because the symptoms mimic those of the latter therefore you might wind up in the emergency room.

With a heart attack, the palpitations are not felt. I have witnessed some unfortunate situations where people assume and make fun of individuals that suffer from anxiety attacks. They are accused of seeking attention and most get ignored because it it believed they will eventually snap out of it. The reality is that, just like heart attacks, anxiety attacks and disorders are real. One cannot easily snap out of an attack than one would after a slip and fall.

Anxiety attacks come up when one is under a great deal of stress and facing a situation that is life threatening and as we all know, our bodies are conditioned to react in different ways.

Those that have regular bouts of anxiety attacks are often categorized as having psychiatric disorders. When the fear and distress grips you, your body and mind reacts by justifying that feeling which leads you to have some repeated activities such as thorough hand washing or aggressively pacing up and down nonstop.


Therefore the attack could emerge after a stressful experience and issues such as divorce, diagnosis of chronic health conditions, family conflict, loss of mental function, break up or losing a loved one, changes to life situations and drug or substance abuse. Going through a traumatic event either as a child or an adult can increase the risk of having an anxiety disorder including depression.

These are some conditions that are closely related to anxiety disorders:

  1. Social Anxiety Disorder
  2. Panic Attacks and Panic Disorder
  3. Separation Anxiety Disorder
  4. General Anxiety Disorder(GAD)
  5. Irrational Fears and Phobias
  6. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder(OCD)
  7. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD)

Someone who suffers more than one anxiety attack is habitually diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. These disorders interestingly share similar symptoms and treatments too.

Anxiety attacks can be controlled by use of therapy, anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. In some instances, herbal treatments, practicing mindfulness, deep breathing techniques and relaxing activities also come in handy in helping put your attack under control.

Truth be told, anxiety attacks can be very scary. On the flipside, they are not exactly life threatening. However, they need not be taken for granted. Psychological evaluation, heart tests such as an electrocardiogram, a physical exam and some blood tests treatment are some of the tests your doctor can undertake to rule out any health conditions with similar symptoms including thyroid and heart disease.

The good news is that Anxiety attacks are treatable. Always seek medical attention as soon as possible to avert any chance of it wrecking havoc in your life.


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