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Can someone please tell me what an anxiety attack is exactly ?

Responses (2)

Inactive 6 Sep 2010

Anxiety is a psychological and physiological state characterized by cognitive, somatic, emotional, and behavioral components. These components combine to create an unpleasant feeling that is typically associated with uneasiness, apprehension, fear, or worry. Anxiety is a generalized mood condition that can often occur without an identifiable triggering stimulus. As such, it is distinguished from fear, which occurs in the presence of an observed threat. Additionally, fear is related to the specific behaviors of escape and avoidance, whereas anxiety is the result of threats that are perceived to be uncontrollable or unavoidable.
Another view is that anxiety is "a future-oriented mood state in which one is ready or prepared to attempt to cope with upcoming negative events" suggesting that it is a distinction between future vs. present dangers that divides anxiety and fear. Anxiety is considered to be a normal reaction to stress. It may help a person to deal with a difficult situation, for example at work or at school, by prompting one to cope with it. When anxiety becomes excessive, it may fall under the classification of an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders are blanket terms covering several different forms of abnormal and pathological fear and anxiety which only came under the aegis of psychiatry at the very end of the 19th century. Current psychiatric diagnostic criteria recognize a wide variety of anxiety disorders. Recent surveys have found that as many as 18% of Americans may be affected by one or more of them.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a common chronic disorder characterized by long-lasting anxiety that is not focused on any one object or situation. Those suffering from generalized anxiety experience non-specific persistent fear and worry and become overly concerned with everyday matters. Generalized anxiety disorder is the most common anxiety disorder to affect older adults.

In panic disorder, a person suffers from brief attacks of intense terror and apprehension, often marked by trembling, shaking, confusion, dizziness, nausea, difficulty breathing. These panic attacks, defined by the APA as fear or discomfort that abruptly arises and peaks in less than ten minutes, can last for several hours and can be triggered by stress, fear, or even exercise; although the specific cause is not always apparent.
In addition to recurrent unexpected panic attacks, a diagnosis of panic disorder also requires that said attacks have chronic consequences: either worry over the attacks' potential implications, persistent fear of future attacks, or significant changes in behavior related to the attacks. Accordingly, those suffering from panic disorder experience symptoms even outside specific panic episodes. Often, normal changes in heartbeat are noticed by a panic sufferer, leading her to think that something is wrong with her heart or she is about to have another panic attack. In some cases, a heightened awareness (hypervigilance) of body functioning occurs during panic attacks, wherein any perceived physiological change is interpreted as a possible life threatening illness (i.e. extreme hypochondriasis).

Hope this helps.

Take care.

rawboots 6 Sep 2010

This helped a great deal. However the whole reason I asked was because just a little bit ago I had some kind of episode. Not sure exactly what though. I was hanging curtains and i dropped them. My dog barking and running around chasing the cats, i felt as of i WANTED TO SCREAM AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS. I had to sit down. I got really shakey and my thoughts just ran a thousand miles an hour. Im finally calming down a little bit. Im currently on bupropion, zoloft and klonopin FYI. Is this considered an anxiety attack ? Im trying to understand.
Thanx, Rawboots

jk13 7 Sep 2010

yup, maso4169 great answer!
Panic attacks are noooo fun!!! At all!!! Surprisingly enough though, while on medication, you can also see a psychologist that can do a significant amount of good for this sort of condition. Something to think about anyways - as it's an investment of time and money (depending on insurance)...

Inactive 7 Sep 2010

Valuable input jk13, and many thanks.-

Inactive 7 Sep 2010

Hi rawboots, It does sound like you may have had an anxiety attack. When I first started getting them (after my daughter was born) I felt irritable, and had racing thoughts as well. I do not get them very often now, I take 1.5 mgs of Xanax a day.
I sure hope you do not have to experience any more of them. Very unpleasant!!!
Maso sure gave you some great info... he needs to get his doctorate!
Best wishes rawboots!
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