We hear a lot of talk about anxiety, and with good reason. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately 20% of Americans have an anxiety disorder. Still, anxiety and its effects remain greatly misunderstood. Anxiety provides information. It is tied to our innate fight or flight response and is needed to avoid real threats to our safety. However, since our brains have developed to be extra sensitive to threat detection, we may also experience anxiety over imagined threats.
Anxiety becomes problematic when it does not give us helpful information, or doesn’t dissipate, contributing to high levels of distress or causing us to avoid particular situations. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health issue among Americans. Luckily they are highly treatable. At Harmony Hills, our anxiety treatment program offers the help you need to overcome anxiety to lead the life you want and deserve. Call us at 855.494.0357 to learn more.
Do Anxiety Attacks Come Out of Nowhere?
For the most part, anxiety attacks do not come on suddenly but generally build over time in response to a specific trigger. Many people use the terms anxiety attack and panic attack interchangeably, but they are different conditions.
Panic attacks come on quickly and create an intense or overwhelming sense of fear. External stressors can trigger them, but they often come out of nowhere. Physical symptoms typically include a racing heart, shortness of breath, dizziness, and nausea. People having panic attacks often believe they have a heart attack. Panic attacks can include a fear of dying or losing control and a sense of detachment, while anxiety attacks do not.
By contrast, anxiety attacks tend to come on gradually and are usually triggered by the anticipation of a stressful event. The main characteristics of anxiety attacks are excessive worry or fear. Symptoms of anxiety attacks vary widely from person to person. Anxiety attacks involve restlessness, apprehension, worry, and distress, while panic attacks do not. Anxiety attacks can bring on panic attacks.
While there are significant differences between the two, panic attacks and anxiety attacks, share common symptoms, including:
- Chest pain
- Dry mouth and tightness of the throat
- Sweating, chills, or hot flashes
- Stomach pain and nausea
- Numbness or tingling sensation
These shared symptoms make it easy to be confused about whether you are experiencing a panic attack or an anxiety attack. Anxiety attacks can range from mild to severe, while panic attacks are almost always intense or powerful. During a panic attack, our fight-or-flight response takes over, which can result in avoidance of particular places or situations for fear of having another attack.
Understanding Anxiety Disorders
The exact cause of anxiety disorders is unknown, but they are thought to be brought on by a complex mix of genetics, environmental stress, and brain chemistry. Anxiety is also linked to substance use disorders and certain medical conditions. Risk factors for anxiety disorders include:
- Negative life events
- Child abuse or neglect
- A history of other mental health disorders
- Severe illness or chronic health conditions
- Low self-esteem
- Being very shy as a child
Anyone can develop an anxiety disorder at any time, and anxiety disorders often co-occur with other mental health disorders, including depression, PTSD, and substance use disorders. It is essential to recognize the difference between being generally stressed and having an anxiety disorder so that you can seek treatment if needed. Some of the signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders include:
- Persistent feelings of worry or dread
- Feeling paranoid or always on the lookout for danger
- Difficulty sleeping
- Frequent Irritability
- Constantly feeling wound-up, restless, or on-edge
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach and diarrhea
- Shortness of breath
There are numerous different types of anxiety disorders, including panic disorder. When your anxiety interferes with how you function in daily life, it is time to seek help from an anxiety treatment program. Luckily, anxiety disorders respond very well to treatment.
Contact Harmony Hills to Overcome Anxiety
Life can feel overwhelming when you are struggling with an anxiety disorder. Harmony Hills provides comprehensive residential mental health treatment for anxiety and co-occurring disorders. Anxiety does not have to control your life. Contact our team at 855.494.0357 to discover how to overcome anxiety at Harmony Hills.