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Stress and fear are powerful emotions. It can feel like they overtake every thought, making it difficult to feel or think anything positive. While many people will try to just shrug off their nerves, people with mental health disorders can have a physical reaction to feeling overwhelmed and nervous.

When a person is struggling with their mental health and are faced with a situation that they perceive as daunting or stressful, it’s possible that they will experience intense feelings of anxiety. Those feelings can cause an anxiety attack. When you’re having an anxiety attack it feels like it will never end. The actual time frame averages about half an hour.

Read on to learn about anxiety attacks, what disorders cause them and how to treat anxiety to reduce the risk of anxiety attacks in the future.

What is an anxiety attack?

Let’s start off by defining what it means to have an anxiety attack. An anxiety attack refers to prolonged periods of intense anxiety that causes intense mental and physical distress and discomfort. It often builds up over time in response to feeling worried and stressed about a situation or event. It can also be in response to feeling threatened.  

An anxiety attack can slowly build up when you’re unable to relax or constantly worried about the past or future. Even though most anxiety attacks last approximately 30 minutes, they can range from a few minutes to a few days. It can be nearly impossible to do anything while experiencing an anxiety attack because it feels like it overtakes every part of your body.

The most common symptoms of an anxiety attack include:

  • Quickened heart rate.
  • Nausea.
  • Trembling.
  • Dizziness.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Muscle tension.
  • Sweating.

It’s important to note that anxiety attacks are different from panic attacks, though people tend to use them interchangeably. Panic attacks are sudden and stem from intense fear as opposed to the ongoing worry that causes anxiety attacks. Panic attacks are also identified in the DSM-5 while anxiety attacks aren’t.

Mental health disorders that cause anxiety attacks

It’s possible to experience an anxiety attack without having a diagnosable disorder, especially if you’re going through stressful situations, such as financial issues, employment changes and concerning world events. 

But having more than one anxiety attack can be a sign of a mental health disorder. Even though anxiety attacks are a common symptom of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder, they can also stem from anxious depression.

It’s common for people to experience depression and anxiety at the same time. In fact, data shows that approximately 60% of people with anxiety also experience depression symptoms, and vice versa.

Anxious depression refers to the anxiety symptoms that stem solely from a depression diagnosis. It’s not the same as people with an anxiety disorder that experience depressive emotions and thoughts. Since many people are often overwhelmed by the same events that can cause depression, such as losing a loved one, it’s possible to experience anxiety symptoms alongside depression.

How to treat disorders that cause anxiety attacks

If you’re experiencing anxiety attacks that are interfering with your ability to carry out your daily life tasks, then it’s important to target the disorder to reduce the risk of experiencing them in the future as well as decrease the severity of the attacks.

If you have anxious depression or depression with anxious symptoms, TMS is a treatment option worth exploring. TMS stands for transcranial magnetic stimulation, which is noninvasive, non-medication neurostimulation therapy used for treatment-resistant depression and anxious depression. It involves transmitting magnetic pulses to the brain to stimulate cell activity as a way to change the underactive neural networks in your brain. 

People with anxious depression will often benefit from psychotherapy as well, which can help them get to the root of their depression while also learning healthy coping mechanisms to help with anxiety attacks in the future.

Active Path Mental Health can help treat anxiety attacks

Anxiety attacks can feel all-encompassing, with every minute feeling like it’s an hour long. But even though anxiety attacks are usually short lived, that doesn’t mean that they should be brushed off as “no big deal.” While it’s understandable for anyone to experience an anxiety attack during highly stressful times of their life, recurring anxiety attacks mean that it’s time to seek professional help to reduce their hold on your mental health.

At Active Path Mental Health, we’ll help you tackle your anxiety attacks so you don’t experience periods of stress that makes every breath feel like a chore.

When you’re ready to work toward a happier and healthier future without anxiety attacks, be sure to contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.

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