“If you don’t have anxiety, the way I would describe it is like there’s an edgy improv group in your brain … and it just needs like a one-word suggestion to spin like countless scenarios that no-one’s comfortable with.”
The above quote comes from a stand up comedian’s routine. What an interesting juxtaposition – anxiety and comedy. But anxiety is no joke. If you have suffered an anxiety attack or struggle with anxiety at all, you know it’s not funny. It is actually quite terrifying.
What Does an Anxiety Attack Feel Like?Have you ever wondered, “What does an anxiety attack feel like?” If so, here are some ways I have heard an anxiety attack described:
“A feeling of overwhelming fear.”
“It feels like I am going crazy or losing control.”
“It is a surge of doom and gloom, like I am in grave danger.”
“Sometimes I feel like I am going to pass out and feel really dizzy.”
Symptoms of an Anxiety Attack
Heart palpitations, sweating, shortness of breath, chest pressure or pain, an urgency to escape, shaking/trembling, turning pale, feeling detached from reality, weak in the knees, burning skin, pins and needles, hot and cold flashes, numbness and tingling sensations, restriction in the throat, an inability to calm down or take a deep breath — these are many of the feelings and symptoms that can accompany an anxiety attack.
Remember a time that you were really afraid or you were in serious danger? That is often how an anxiety attack feels. I imagine if you are reading this article, you suffer from some of these symptoms. Anxiety produces a stress response which causes a number of different reactions to the perceived threat — fight, flight, or freeze.The “Fight Response” can bring about feelings of wanting to cry, an impulse to punch something or someone, grinding teeth, stomping feet, wanting to kick something, feelings of anger and rage, a knot in your stomach and often nausea.
The “Flight Response” can feel like restlessness or numbness in the legs and/or feet, shallow breathing, darting eyes, feelings of being trapped, or even excessive exercise.
The “Freeze Response” often brings up a feeling of being stuck in some part of the body, feeling cold or numb, stiffness and heaviness, holding your breath or restricted breathing, a sense of dread accompanied by pounding heart, decreased (or increased) heart rate, facing the threat and feeling frozen there.
Because each person’s body is somewhat chemically unique, anxiety attacks can be experienced differently. The symptoms can last anywhere from a few moments to a few hours. The reasons for an anxiety attack are just as varied as the vast differences from one human being to another.
Ways to Overcome an Anxiety Attack
It is important to know how you can best calm down when any of these feelings come upon you. What works best for you? If you can’t take a deep breath, can you picture a relaxing scene? If you cannot stop your brain from racing long enough to picture anything calming, can you find an object that you could pick up and hold in your hand, feeling its texture and focusing your senses on that object?
I have known people who carry an object around with them, even small enough to fit in their pocket, just in case an attack happens. Is there a certain scent that you really like, one that could relax or calm you?
Remember, it does take time — but you will get past this moment of panic. Once you find yourself calming down, start taking deep breaths. Deep, cleansing breaths will slow your heart rate and bring a sense of relaxation and calm. In time.
If you find yourself suffering from anxiety attacks or panic attacks, consider calling a Christian counselor today. You can learn coping skills and how to manage the fear that accompanies these attacks. You can gain perspective and learn how to weather the stresses in life – past, present, and future.
“Self-portrait,” courtesy of Alyssa L. Miller, Flickr Creative Commons, CC0 License; “Frustrated,” courtesy of Clem Onojeghuo, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Solitary Woman,” courtesy of 27707, pixabay.com, CC0 Public Domain License