We have all heard stories of people who make mistakes while performing in front of a crowd. People who hold the mic for the first time and cry or freeze up. 

For some people, it’s easy to speak in front of a crowd. For others, it’s the most anxiety-producing thing they will ever do. It’s as though their bodies choose to rebel against them.

In this blog, you’ll learn what anxiety attacks are, the symptoms of anxiety attacks or disorders, and how you can deal with them. 

What are Anxiety Attacks?

Anxiety is a natural emotional response by the body to difficult situations or perceived danger. It may involve worry, fear, or apprehension concerning future happenings.  

However, when anxiety becomes intense, persistent, and overwhelming, there is a problem. You may be having an anxiety attack. 

Anxiety attacks are very common and affect about thirty percent of all adults. These attacks come gradually and usually involve a potential stressor or trigger.  They can be due to various triggers and have symptoms with which they are diagnosed. They typically last for about five to twenty minutes or longer.

Anxiety attacks are mostly used interchangeably with panic attacks. However, anxiety attacks are different from panic attacks.

Panic attacks tend to be sudden and may not be due to a specific issue or trigger. They present suddenly and peak after about thirty minutes. A panic attack also has more severe symptoms that are usually physical and can be signs of a panic disorder.

An anxiety attack may also eventually progress to a panic attack.

What can Cause or Trigger an Anxiety Attack? 

There are various triggers for different people. It could be a stressful or frightening situation or a substance that sensitizes the brain to prepare for fight or flight. Some of the triggers include the following: 

  • Caffeine and drugs: Substance abuse has always disturbed the body’s metabolic state and the brain’s perception. Overdoses of caffeine or psychoactive substances can lead to severe anxiety attacks.
  • Lack of adequate sleep: Without proper sleep, the brain is left in a state of persistent sensitization and hence may precipitate anxiety attacks.
  • Stressors: These could be physical or emotional stressors such as relationship breakups or trauma such as rape or witnessing an accident. 
  • Phobias: People have phobias of various things. In the face of their phobia, a person can have an anxiety attack. For instance, people who are scared of heights may have an anxiety attack when faced with their trigger.
  • Work: Toxic work cultures and environments can lead to anxiety attacks and the inability to meet deadlines and set goals. 
  • Family and relationship troubles: Many adults are affected by family problems, such as a divorce, breakup, or a family member’s problem.
  • Culture shock: Going to a new place or country always comes with anxiety. However, serious culture shocks can lead to anxiety attacks. 
  • Bereavement: Grief can sometimes be in the form of anxiety attacks. It can also be depression-induced anxiety attacks. 
  • Chronic health conditions: Being diagnosed with a chronic disease, such as diabetes, cancer, or hypertension, can take a toll on an individual.
  • Other mental disorders such as OCD and PTSD can present with anxiety attacks.
  • Exams: The fear of failing exams can manifest as anxiety disorders. This could also be coupled with the mental stress of preparing for an exam.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety attacks can present with different symptoms in different people depending on the severity, which can be mild, moderate, or severe. These symptoms can be emotional or even physical. However, there are some classical symptoms irrespective of their intensity in the individual:

  • Nervousness and restlessness
  • Foreboding of impending danger
  • Fast breathing and palpitations
  • Involuntary shaking and trembling
  • Sweating and dryness of the mouth
  • Singularity of thought patterns
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability and chills
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and dizziness
  • Faint feeling and dizziness

When anxiety attacks are long-lasting and triggered by social interactions, they may be signs of social anxiety disorders 

How to Manage Anxiety Attacks?

There are various ways to prevent these anxiety attacks and deal with yourself. 

  1. Recognition of triggers, symptoms, or auras: Sometimes, anxiety attacks come with a certain aura or premonition. When this happens, it is important to talk to someone to take you to a quiet or a calm place where you can get relief. Also, when you notice this aura, you can better prepare yourself to handle the symptoms. This may be by a pep talk to improve your perception of the stressors.
  2. Mindfulness: Mindfulness means paying more attention to your body and noticing changes. It means that rather than just going about with your daily activities without regard to what you feel, like a twitching eye, you decide to pay attention. Focus on how situations make your body feel and deal with those symptoms when they’re small. Allowing them to build up can become a cause of anxiety attacks. 
  3. Exercise: Exercise helps the body and brain to better adapt to stressful conditions. This can include intense physical exercises, stretching, and even breathing exercises. This can also help you handle the symptoms of anxiety attacks especially as regards increased heart rates, shortness of breath, and palpitations. Exercise also prepares your heart to better handle increases in blood flow to the brain due to stressful conditions.
  4. Relaxation: Being Intentional about relaxing your body and mind goes a long way to improve the symptoms of anxiety attacks. This may include resting after a long day, sleeping adequately. Sleeping for about eight hours every day is ideal to get the body rejuvenated for the next day. 

Treatment

  1. Cognitive-behavioral therapy: In this psychotherapy system, you are made to understand your anxiety triggers and see them from a different perspective. This change in perception helps you to better understand and handle these anxiety attacks.
  2. Support groups: You can learn how other people handled their own anxiety attacks and how you can handle yours too. A community removes the stigma too and helps you focus on your therapy.
  3. Exposure therapy: Based on the principle that fear decreases when something becomes a routine. You’re made to do or experience your anxiety triggers and this makes you better acquainted with the situation and reduces your anxiety. 

Using Ketamine to Reduce the Symptoms of Anxiety

Ketamine has been proven to be very effective in treating anxiety disorders. We can understand how Ketamine works in anxiety disorders by understanding how anxiety affects the brain. 

When anxiety attacks set in, the level of glutamate decreases rapidly. Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain and it is released within the hippocampus of the brain. Glutamate helps in the proper functioning of the brain and neurons. When there is a reduction of glutamate, anxiety attacks set in. 

Research has shown that Ketamine increases the level of glutamate in the brain. In this way, it protects the brain against anxiety attacks and improves neuron function. 

Aside from increasing glutamate, ketamine also repairs neuron synapses and reduces the tachycardia and palpitations symptoms that come with anxiety attacks.