Out of nowhere, it hit you like you were involved in a car crash. You feel on edge, panicked, and caught off guard. Your hands start to shake. You feel jittery. Your nerves are off the charts. Beads of sweat start to form on your forehead. You’re struggling to catch your breath. You even feel a little lightheaded.
You’re frustrated. You’re sick of feeling this way, but you’re not really sure what exactly causes you to feel this way. Let’s find out where exactly anxiety attacks come from.
What is an Anxiety Attack?
Before we dive into the specific cause of anxiety attacks, let’s learn a little more about them. Anxiety attacks typically occur as a response mechanism to a certain stressful situation.
Anxiety attacks are often confused with panic attacks. While anxiety attacks tend to build more gradually, panic attacks happen a little more unexpectedly and quickly.
Anxiety attacks can bring on feelings of physical and emotional symptoms. Here are some of the most common symptoms:
- Chest pain
- Choking sensation
- Digestive Issues
- Dry mouth
- Fear of dying
- Hot flashes
- Increased heart rate
- Loss of control
- Shortness of breath
Anxiety isn’t a one size fits all type of condition. Anxiety typically stems from something in your life that your body and mind may feel is threatening your safety and security. Something that you may perceive as stressful may not be a stressor to one of your friends, family members, or coworkers.
These are some of the most common causes of anxiety and anxiety attacks:
- Alcohol or drug withdrawal
- Chronic pain
- Heart disease
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Job stress
- Phobias and fears
- Social interactions
- Thyroid issues
- Traumatic memories or reminders from the past
In addition to some of the causes of anxiety, there are also risk factors that can cause an anxiety attack. These are some of the most common risk factors:
- Anxiety or anxious personality
- Chronic health condition
- Death of a loved one
- Depression or another mental health condition
- Drug or alcohol use or abuse
- Experiencing a traumatic event
- Family conflict
- Financial worries
- History of anxiety or anxiety attacks within the family
- Life-threatening illness
- Ongoing stress
- Witnessing a traumatic event
- Work responsibilities
If you experience anxiety attacks, there are treatment options available to you. There are even certain things you can do on your own to try to manage your anxiety better. Here are a few ways to try to reduce some of the symptoms you may be experiencing:
- Implement deep breathing
- Allow yourself to feel
- Acknowledge what you’re going through
- Practice mindfulness
- Incorporate relaxation techniques
Making lifestyle changes can also help reduce some of your signs and symptoms:
- Identify your stressors
- Exercise on a daily or regular basis
- Practice meditation
- Eat healthy and well-balanced meals
- Limit substances like drugs or alcohol
If your anxiety or anxiety attacks are starting to get in the way of your daily life and routine, it’s time to reach out for additional support. Therapy is one of the best treatment options for anxiety or anxiety attacks.
Working with a therapist can help you get to the root cause of your anxiety. A licensed and trained mental health professional will be able to work with you to help you identify your stressors and learn to better manage any signs or symptoms you may be experiencing.