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Anxiety Attack Symptoms

Get Relief from Anxiety Symptoms

Even if you've never had an attack one of the best ways of understanding anxiety is by first learning about anxiety attack symptoms. You see, the clue to understanding anxiety is in our internal wiring.

These are the kinds of statements you'll hear from someone experiencing an anxiety attack:

anxiety on the face of a male

  • "Out of the blue my heart would flip out and start racing." (e.g. palpitations)
  • "My heart was pounding so hard, and the tightness in my felt like I was having a heart attack." (If your doctor confirms it wasn't a heart attack, anxiety may be the culprit.)
  • "My throat was so dry and I was sweating like crazy."
  • "I couldn't get my breath. And then I started hyperventilating. I felt like I was going to suffocate."
  • "My legs were jiggling and my hands were trembling." (Emotional release)
  • "I felt like I was going to faint. I felt dizzy and strange. (Emotional release)
  • "My head felt this intense pressure and I started to get a headache."
  • "The worse of it was that I had this feeling I was going to die. I thought I was going crazy."

Anxiety Attack Symptoms are actually part of our survival armour.

Our nervous system evolved over thousands of years. For most of those years humans faced enormous dangers from animals, erratic food supplies, harsh weather conditions, and of course other human beings.

Our brain evolved to respond with lightning speed to any sign of danger, often even before we are even fully conscious of it.

fight or flight response

This physical reaction was coined by Walter Cannon as the fight-or-flight response.

Imagine for a moment being alone in a cabin in the woods. You go out to the wood pile about 50 yards from the cabin door so you can light a fire. Click the arrow to hear what happens next...



How does your body respond?

Your cardiovascular system leaps into action.

  • Your heart beats hard and fast to pump blood 5X's the normal rate from one gallon to five gallons a minute.
  • Blood rushes to the outer extremities in the muscles to enable sufficient strength for fight or flight.
  • Blood is constricted in other less essential areas like the surface of your skin (you end up looking quite pale as a result).
  • Blood vessels in the kidneys and digestive system also constrict and your mouth becomes dry as a result.
  • To lighten the load your bladder or bowels may open up--hence irritable bowel and/or upset stomach.
  • Sweat glands open up to cool your body down.

Your respiratory system joins in on the action.

  • Your lungs and nostrils open up and your breath speeds up. This allows more air so more blood can be oxygenated, delivering more blood to the muscles. This also gives you the ability to scream loudly!

And behind the scenes...

  • Endorphins are released providing a natural pain reliever (sore joints won't limit your strength or speed).
  • Our senses sharpen and our pupils dilate. We can even see better in the dark.
  • Energy is metabolized. Fat is broken down from the cells and glucose from the liver creates a ready source of energy.

Your higher brain (i.e. the neocortex) gets hijacked.

  • Positive arousal chemicals are blocked so that your attention is not distracted by pleasure.

alert dog with no anxiety

  • Your thinking becomes intensely focused on identifying the source of danger even if it is not readily known. Any clue from past experiences is called up from the deep files in the far recesses of the brain.
  • You are more reactive and spontaneous. This is not a time for reflection.

Notice the similarity to anxiety attack symptoms above?

Yes, that's correct. Anxiety attack symptoms are provoked by our fight or flight response!

Why are we so easily triggered into fight or flight?

The answer lies in the normal workings of the nervous system and understanding that our internal wiring is fear-based and engineered to keep us safe.

Anxiety Attack Symptoms and your Nervous System

What many people fail to recognize is that anxiety attack symptoms are actually the result of the normal workings of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). It isn't that the nervous system has gone wacky. It's responding exactly as it should.

The problem is that the set point for danger is too low. Too many events or too much stimulation easily trigger the system into emergency action.

And there's no mystery to why it's set too low...but I will explain that in my next article. (To learn more about the ANS you will find the following articles helpful: Parasympthetic Nervous System and the Sympathetic Nervous System).

To learn how to get rid of anxiety get my free eBook (as a Bonus I'll send you my latest movie): 

Revisit: Anxiety Attack Symptoms

Chest Heaviness and Anxiety Attack Symptoms

I love writing about this topic because it removes a lot of the pathological language that surrounds the discussion of anxiety symptoms. There is much more to explain about the process I've described above so please check back for further updates....the clue is in our "cavemen" wiring smiley-surprised.gif

By the way, one of the fastest ways of reducing your anxiety is to have a good chat with a trusted friend. That's because we're wired that way.

And when no one is available or you feel you might have tapped out your friends, check out an expert. A counselor is trained to help settle your nervous system. 

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