Author: Susan Willis
Having an anxiety or panic attack can be a frightening, exhausting experience. Once you have experienced an anxiety attack, you will dread the idea of ever having one again. In fact, you will want to do everything in your power to avoid them. Anxiety attacks are accompanied by a number of tell-tale physical, emotional and psychological symptoms.
But, how do you know if you have had a real anxiety or panic attack? How do you know what are the normal symptoms of such an attack?
Here are 6 signs and symptoms of generalized anxiety and anxiety attacks:
1. You are constantly tense, worried or on edge
People who experience generalized anxiety are those who always seem to be on edge, worried, or tense. They might constantly have the feeling that something bad is going to happen to them, especially when they are in public places. But, generalized anxiety can be exacerbated by being in almost any situation, whether alone at home or in public. You may have generalized anxiety if you feel particularly anxious and concerned when spending time around a lot of people, being in public places, or being in open spaces.
2. Your anxiety interferes with your responsibilities
Most of us have responsibilities such as work, school or taking care of family. If your general sense of anxiety actually gets in the way of your ability to carry out these tasks, you likely have a serious problem with anxiety. In other words, if you cannot perform these essential tasks at 100% capacity and to the best of your ability, you may have an anxiety-related problem that needs attention.
3. You are plagued by irrational fears
When you wake up in the morning, do you often think about all of the potentially bad things that could happen to you that day? Do you imagine, for example, getting stuck in an elevator, being trapped in a public space with a lot of strangers, or otherwise having things happen to you that would cause you to lose control of yourself or your situation? While of course any of these things could happen, fearing them constantly is not a rational act. If you are plagued by these types of fears, it is likely you have a serious issue with anxiety.
4. You experience sudden bouts of heart-pounding panic
Generalized anxiety, as well as other causes, can lead to actual anxiety attacks. These attacks are characterized by having sudden episodes whereby your heart starts beating faster and your breathing rate increases dramatically. The attack may last from 10 to 30 minutes or longer, although it may feel like an eternity given the extremely negative physical, emotional and psychological feelings that accompany it.
5. You experience other tell-tale physical symptoms
Other tell-tale physical symptoms of an anxiety attack include a pounding heart, sweating, upset stomach, numbness of limbs or chest, shortness of breath, tremors, muscle tension, fatigue, and insomnia.
6. You experience common psychological symptoms
In the midst of a severe anxiety attack, a lot of irrational thoughts may start running like a freight train through your head. For example, you may fear that you are going to lose control or go crazy. You may also feel like you are going to pass out. And, even when you are not having an actual attack, you may constantly live in fear of having another one. Paradoxically, this fear can actually increase your chances of having another attack.
The symptoms of generalized anxiety and of an anxiety attack are unmistakable. If you have been through an attack, you will likely not forget it. The good news is that there are ways to educate yourself about how to avoid future attacks.
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