What does anxiety and panic attack feels like?

Anxiety symptoms varies from person to person. There are different levels to it. In certain cases, anxiety is associated with physical illness. In other cases, it is part of mental illness. People had been using the terms nervous and anxiety interchangeably. Slight anxious and nervousness can have a similarity. But anxiety is a separate broad topic. Anxiety is mainly classified into five types. To know detailed information about these types, you can read here :
Types Of Anxiety Disorder

How does the person feels and goes through the anxiety or panic attack duration? Let’s understand the feelings that is being experienced by the person during the anxiety/panic attack.

What Does Anxiety And Panic Attack Feels Like_

1] Nervousness Vs. Anxiety

Nervousness lasts for few seconds or minutes. Nervousness compared to anxiety is easily possible to overcome. Nervousness is a common natural human reaction while trying things for the first time. It is possible to feel the same usually, but it is not as deep as an anxious feeling.

For e.g. [1]: A student feels nervous to give the presentation on the stage. This student has to wait for his/her turn. Until the turn comes, the student feels nervous. He/She will fear of performing in front of all. He/She will doubt the outcomes of presentation. The person may have bit sweaty hands. The student may share with other friends saying, ”I am feeling nervous, don’t know how will I do it!” This student goes to the stage and gives the presentation well. He/She will even forget that nervousness moment and has moved on with other things of class. In another level of nervousness, some students may make slight mistakes while giving presentation because of tensions and doubts on their ability. These students will also move on with other activities of the class for that day or upcoming days. The ones who makes mistakes , may improve over a period of time.

For e.g. [2]: When a group of people visit adventure places, most of them will try adventure sports for the first time. All of them are excited to enjoy this sport. But, few of them will have nervousness as they will try it for the first time. Once they begin the adventure, nervousness is replaced by happiness.
With these two examples, it is noticeable that nervous feeling is an emotion which is solvable without any efforts.

 

How does the anxiety feels in the same two situations?

In example one, the student will not have any guts of giving presentation on the stage. This student may have prepared 100% good presentation. He/She has practiced many times with no mistakes at home. He/She scored good at exams and hence, has the potential of giving a good presentation. This student will either have sweaty hands or cold body. The heart beats faster. This person may share with other friends, ”I am feeling nervous, don’t know how will I do it. I can’t do it.” Other friends may boost up the student’s confidence level. But, nothing else works out. Student will hesitate to go on the stage. While giving the presentation, this person will be feeling weak and bit of darkness visuals. He/She may make mistakes. After the presentation, they will still have the symptoms for that day or the week. When another day of presentation comes, all the feelings repeat. Additionally, due to previous presentation mistakes, this time the student will have low esteem. They will start developing fear of stage. The symptoms of anxiety will vary from person to person because it depends on the level of anxiety stages.

In example two:
If this person is afraid of trying out any adventure thing, then he/she may not succeed at it. Their heart beat palpitation increases and may develop stomach pains. By courage, if they succeed at the first time, they will still hold up fear to try it second time and sometimes give it up. Again, the symptoms will vary depending on the level of anxiety.

2] Anxiety Levels

The beginning levels of anxiety which can have similarity with nervousness can be cured with the changes of lifestyles and mind tricks.

Intense anxiety is often experienced at social events, phobia, driving, professional life and any new events of life. Intense anxiety includes fear of doing something or going somewhere.

At the social events, the person may not feel comfortable to get along with the people. An anxiety feeling will make the person feel inferior. The fear of people judging her/his behavior. The thought of, “What if one does not eat well or interact well? ‘’ revolves around the mind. What if one fails to dance or sing or do any group activities. The person can suddenly start showing up anxiety symptoms. The hands are sweaty and the body feels lighter or weak. Vision may feel blurrier. Headache or stomach pains begins. The person feels burdensome to finish food properly. There is a similar feeling of some electric slow waves passing along the body nerves. The person feels an urge to leave the place. He/She loses an interest and wants to find a comfortable place usually, it’s the home. In a number of instances, nausea symptom is developed. A nausea feeling and a dizzy head makes the person uncomfortable to hang around the people. Stomach cramps leading to acidity results in low level energy. It becomes difficult for the person to walk , stand or sit comfortably.

Some people  experience the similar symptoms while driving. An individual may have good driving skills but the anxiety will not let them believe it. They will fear from driving in traffic and slowly they may end up giving up driving. The person shivers before starting a vehicle. While taking out the vehicle, the heart races. While driving, any horn or disturbance on the road can scare the person easily.

3] How anxiety transforms to panic attacks?

When a person experiences anxiety often, they develop  the panic symptom in the next stage. Anxiety has the reasons. The person is self-aware of experiencing anxiety and wants to get rid of it but cannot overcome it. In the beginning levels of anxiety, simple tips and lifestyle changes help but later on medicines are much more required for healing. An untreated anxiety leads to panic attacks. Panic attack can happen during an intense anxiety period. But, panic attacks is also unpredictable. It can happen without any reason , to be precise, during the sleep. People wake up in the middle of night due to panic attack with no reason.  Whilst we may not notice the reason for this attack, there lies an unidentified cause. It can be the result of prolonged anxiety issues. Sometimes it results from physical body stress. People who are mentally strong for a long time, may develop panic attacks as well. Because there is a limit to everything. Therefore, a consistent strong mind may get tired up at some moment.

4] How does a panic attack feels like?

While anxiety can have different tips to help with , the same cannot be true with panic attacks. The practice required to calm these symptoms needs more efforts. Panic attacks generally feels same every time for many people. Every time the person reacts as if it is happening for the first time. They know that it is not the first time and it is temporary moment. Unfortunately, the symptoms will lock the person’s mind which makes them difficult to quickly fix themselves.

Panic attack people struggle for breathing. It can happen during the severe anxiety or during the sleep. Once the person starts breathing faster, he/she gets worried thinking it is the heart attack. The feeling of gasping long air and uncomfortable body makes the person conclude it as a dying moment. The person feels nauseated and may have frequent motions. They feel sweaty and chills. The body trembles. A person feels trapped. The feeling of want to come out of this trapped body but can’t. It is not a paralyzed symptom. The person feels helpless and loneliness. The person misses the ones they love. Everything seems to be overwhelming for those moments. It can last for 20 mins to hours.

Recurring panic attack:
The daily life gets affected with recurring panic attacks. Person easily gets affected with loud sound, fights, scary visuals, bad news, or phobias. The heart pounds instantly. Since, the mind is constantly on alert, the person’s heart pounds immediately even if the person is aware that there is nothing to worry about.

 

For the Harry Potter fans:
Severe anxiety with Panic attacks can be related to this scene wherein:
Dementors the dark floating creatures approach people or your favorite Harry Potter. They suck happiness , love, positive and peaceful mind. They let your body feel cold and helpless with the pains and fears. You try to survive with faster breathing. You can use the wand and say, “Expecto Patronum” and Boom!  The dementor vanishes.

In reality, we don’t have wands. We have different tips, medicines, and our loved ones to get rid of such panic attacks. Most importantly, it’s [us,we, I ] should work consistently to take care of ourselves and keep ourselves stronger and healthier.

RELATED CONTENT:
How to control anxiety at night time?
How To Help Someone With Anxiety And Panic Attacks?

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24 comments

  1. MELANIE EDJOURIAN says:

    I had a friend that used to suffer from Anxiety / panic attacks when we were younger. She managed to work through the issues causing them with help. It took time and patience and wasn’t always easy to cope with but she got there thankfully.

  2. Kristine Nicole Alessandra says:

    You have done a good job in clearly defining the difference between these two. I have anxiety and so far, it has been “quiet” since I left that toxic, highly stressful job I once had. My anxiety then was so bad that the moment I entered the building, I started to have stomach cramps and acid build up.

    1. Thank you Kristine 🧡 Yes, the stomach cramps and acidity is an uncomfortable thing. Thank you for sharing about your experience

  3. I guess I’ve suffered from anxiety multiple times and I thought I was nervous. It’s not an awesome feeling at all. I’m over it now though.

  4. iamlunablog@gmail.com says:

    Never experience this but my friend has. I really made me cry seeing her the way he act when panic attacks her. Thank you for sharing and gives me so many guide on how I can help her.

  5. Thats a very informative post. You explained difference between anxiety and nervousness so well.

  6. I have anxiety but I haven’t had a anxiety attack yet. It is great of you to put together this post on such an important topic. It’s taught many important things.

  7. This is such a great description of panic attacks…and a Harry Potter reference to boot! I hate the colloquialism of the phrase “panic attack” because now people who really do have them have a much harder time explaining the severity of what they’re experiencing.

    1. Yes Liz. Colloquialism of disorders have become so common. Something that needs to be stopped. Thank you for reading 🧡

  8. You’ve done a really great job of explaining this. I struggling with anxiety and it can definitely be work to keep it under control.

  9. Alexandra Cook says:

    This is such an important to be discussed. A person who know someone struggling with panic attack should really need how to handle them. Understanding is what they need.

  10. I suffer with anxiety, but never admitted it until my 2 daughters started showing signs and symptoms. Panic attacks are common for me at night, My one daughter has now suffered with 3 panic attacks. It is crazy! So I totally related to this post. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Good to know that your daughters were able to recognise it. 😊 Hope you guys are taking treatment. Take care ❤

  11. natalielovesbeauty says:

    I can relate to so much of this! In some ways it’s gotten better. I need to be mindful of my negative thoughts.

  12. We are all sometimes anxious, there’s a problem when this anxiety becomes serious and needs treatment! Thanks for sharing!

  13. Wow this was an informative post. I used to have panic attacks a long time ago and I used to go through some of these symptoms.

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