What is an Anxiety Attack and What Should I Do if I Have One?

What is an Anxiety Attack and What Should I Do if I Have One?

In this article we’ll be talking about what is an anxiety attack, how you can know whether or not you’re experiencing one, and what to do about it if you do.

What is an Anxiety Attack?

The symptoms of a panic attack can be quite disturbing. A pounding or racing heart or a feeling of being weak and faint, chest pains, experiencing chills or a sweaty feeling, rapid breathing, trouble taking a deep breath, or experiencing a sense of doom are but a few of them.

None of these should be taken lightly. It is important to head to the emergency room if you experience this so that you can rule out anything more serious. It is not uncommon for one to suspect they are having a heart attack from these symptoms.

Ways the Body Defends Itself

Much like during the times when faced with a dangerous situation, the human body has a way to make us realize the need to relax through signs of stress. Even though fluctuating between resilience and complexity at varying times, the body can also be fragile as well.

During those moments when one faces danger the defense mechanism, which comprises the fragile side of the body’s nervous system takes over. The option being ‘fight or flight’as seen in wild animals when confronted with a dangerous situation. Within a split second, a decision is made on the kind of action one needs to take.

In much the same way should you encounter danger (such as a dangerous animal) your body reacts in readiness to counter the situation. In between feeling your body flood with stress hormones experiencing a suddenly pounding pulse, you decide whether to stay and fight or run away from the place. The nervous system is on the alert to come to the rescue.

Effects of Trauma on the Brain

In the event that what you originally thought was a snake actually turns out to be a rope, your body starts to calm down. Letting out a sigh of relief while taking in a deep breath helps change the course of your emotions. You are now able to relax as a result of the nervous system offsetting stress hormones bringing calm to your system.

Should you go through long periods of stress, however, your body can suffer damage since stress is only meant to kick in when necessary. This can lead to conditioning the brain to always be on the alert for threats, making it difficult for you to calm down.

Over time this becomes ingrained in a person making him prone to panic and anxiety. Your doctor may prescribe anti-anxiety medication should this continue over six months in order to be able to keep it under control.

What Triggers a Panic Attack?

A number of things can trigger a panic attack even though the cause is not always easy to see. At times you may get a panic attack without an obvious trigger, say while driving along on the road.

On the other hand, there may be some sort of trigger, say from possible contact with a person with whom you are in a difficult relationship. Either way, the body takes stock of trauma and even stockpiling it. It is necessary to work on resolving undesirable thoughts and also work out physically to release trauma.

Any time the body is no longer able to handle stress a panic attack could result. You might also have a fainting spell even though it might be as a result of other conditions in the body. A visit to the Doctor is able to determine the cause of the fainting spell.

Methods for Controlling Anxiety

It is possible for one to control anxiety mainly through deep breathing. The method is to sit in a relaxed position both hands on the sides and slowly take deep breaths. Instead of letting one’s breath out through the ribcage engage the diaphragm by pushing the stomach out. This should not be forced so check the movement of the stomach with a hand. You will be able to breathe easily this way and initiate calm in your body.

To achieve this might take practice and you may find it difficult to take a deep breath at the beginning. As long as you give it some effort you are on the right track.

Start off by seeing if you can count to three while breathing in slowly and then double the effort. At this point, you should take in breath through the nose with your lips pressed together and then out through the mouth.

Once you do it for a minute, move on to two, and then three, building up to a longer duration. Don’t worry if it feels like you are getting nowhere with this; remember that this is an altogether new training for your body.

Alternative Anxiety Treatment

It is possible to get treated for anxiety without the use of medicine. The treatment consists of three R’s which are Recognize, Reflect and Redirect.

  • Recognize: The first step in dealing with anxiety. It is not fun dealing with anxiety and most people attempt to push it under by ignoring the symptoms, which doesn’t help since anxiety thrives on ignorance. No matter how much one might try to cover it up by engaging in more pleasurable activities it will remain and most probably present as a panic attack after some time.

It is common for someone who has had a panic attack before to have a repeat, especially from recollection of the previous one. It cannot be stressed enough the need for a person to manage their anxiety early enough after it has been identified. Anxiety should not be allowed to fester but should be dealt with immediately in order to avoid lasting effects.

  • Reflect: Anxiety can be justified at times. For instance, when faced with a dangerous situation requiring action to be taken. Not, however, when the memory of the incident stays in the mind making you dwell on the possibility of a repeat incident.

If you live in expectation of catastrophe you may trigger a panic attack, so you need to halt the thought pattern. Reflect on whether there is anything you need to do about the situation at the moment. Realizing that it is in the past then purpose to move forward.

The fact that it is in the past means there is nothing you can do about it at present, and there’s no use thinking it might recur again. Take a deep breath and remind yourself to live in the present.

  • Redirect: Negative thoughts should not be allowed to dwell in the mind. You need to find a way of keeping the mind off such thoughts by engaging in other things. After Recognizing and Redirecting them find a way to keep your mind clear of them.

An alternative is to pay attention to activities around you especially those that offer you encouragement. Set aside a moment to take in deep breaths when you feel tightness in the chest as it will also be of great help. The point is finding distraction from the negative thoughts that will likely to lead to anxiety. A good way to do this is to get absorbed in the now, pushing aside all thoughts of the past.

Whatever distractions you settle on, be sure that you immerse yourself in them so that there is no room for the past to creep into the mind. In the end, you will find that being more aware of the surroundings goes a long way in ensuring that your mind stays focused on the present instead of slipping back to the past every so often.

Kind Treatment of Yourself

There are things we carry with us from the past. What happened to us while growing up is a part of who we are. Unless we deal with the trauma that might have resulted we are likely to face fear and anxiety more often. This is because despite having come up with defense mechanisms to counter them we are likely to be vulnerable as well.

In the end, we blame ourselves for what took place, bombarding our minds with all manner of negative thoughts. All which add to an anxiety that does not need to be present in the first place. In such instances, it is important to remember to be kind to ourselves to ensure we win the internal battles.

Realizing Growth and Healing in our Choices

There is no doubt that the past has a big role in shaping the person we eventually become. It is the basis of our emotional being and these experiences are further compounded by our reaction to them. For instance, if you’ve had a nasty encounter with a person it is only natural for you to feel anxious at the possibility of encountering them again.

There are things we struggle with that have become obvious to us. Being aware of their negative impact on us should serve to send us on the right course for change. We no longer have to be subject to undesirable behavior but can let it go from our lives.

Being on medication for anxiety is like taking a pill for a headache and should not be viewed negatively. It is not a sign of weakness since it is similar to any other illness requiring medication. Nor is it a sign we lack the faith to be healed. Emotional wellbeing is just as important as the physical and so may require medication. Like other natural responses of the body, one cannot overlook emotional pain. It remains if not addressed.

God has provided a variety of solutions to for whatever it is that we battle with. To this end, you should do whatever needs to be done to help you to get over anxiety, as long as it has a positive effect. Do not fight help that is available but instead take a step to finding healing and growth. God, in his grace, has made ways for us to find the help that we need in times of trouble.

The Value and Love God has for You

There is nothing wrong with feeling good about yourself. The very fact that we are created in the image of God gives us reason to celebrate who we are. If you are alive and kicking you are an image-bearer of God on earth.

A big shift took place in the late 1960’s with the self-esteem movement. People have become focused on self-actualization but without any regard to godliness. God does not necessarily oppose feeling good.

Your value as a person has no relation whatsoever, to what you have been through in life. Rather, God demonstrated his love for mankind in that while we were sinners he sent his Son to die on the cross so we receive pardon for our sins. There is nothing more you have to do regarding the matter since he already did it all.

What remains is for us to realize our value in God and not listen to lies. Do not give room to the voices from inside but avoid the negativity. Instead, learn ways to manage anxiety. The desire for a better quality of life should not necessarily be viewed as egocentric. Even though we could appear selfish in the pursuit it is nevertheless the desire for health and balance that drives us to do what we do.

Dealing with Anxiety through Christian Counseling

It is the duty of a Christian counselor to give the best of himself to the calling as if working directly for God. For those who have difficulty getting on with life due to anxiety, they can seek recourse in Christian counseling once they acknowledge the need. There they will be able to get sober advice on ways to deal with anxiety from experts who are qualified to help them in the matter.

“Contemplating,” courtesy of Jad Limcaco, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Hold On,” courtesy of Priscilla du Preez, cdn.magdeleine.co, CC0 Public Domain License; “Stretch,” courtesy of Jacob Postuma, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Pondering the Problems of the World,” courtesy of Sergey Zolkin, unsplash.com, Public Domain License 


Articles are intended for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice; the Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All opinions expressed by authors and quoted sources are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors, publishers or editorial boards of San Diego Christian Counseling. This website does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site. Reliance on any information provided by this website is solely at your own risk.