What is an anxiety attack?

Some of us may be fortunate enough to not know the answer to this question. Well anxiety attacks are open to some interpretation. There are a few symptoms, which are associated with general anxiety disorder or (GAD), which are characterised as physical manifestations of emotions such as distress, fear and worry and related behaviours.

The onset can be sudden or can accumulate over a period of time, until both the sensation and physical symptoms become unmanageable. This is arguably what most of us consider an anxiety attack to be. Although, due to the lack of concrete characteristics these symptoms and the rate of their onset, range considerably. There are thus no set symptoms with which to diagnose this form of experience or attack.

So, what is an anxiety attack and how do we narrow it down? Well, this really depends on the circumstances and diagnosis of the doctor in question. You could have all of the common symptoms of an anxiety episode, such as an elevated heart rate, trouble breathing, restlessness, and/or trouble sleeping, but this does not mean you are necessarily having an attack.

An anxiety attack is generally when one or more of these symptoms become unbearable and impede your ability to function effectively in your daily life.

What is the difference between an anxiety and panic attack?

There are many people out there who think that anxiety attacks and these panic episodes are one in the same thing, when in fact they are two distinct conditions. It is quite common to assume this, although when one digs a bit deeper, you will notice a few key differences. Panic attacks have a very sudden onset, and more often than not can be attributed to external inputs. These more often than not elicit a fear response i.e. your body’s natural flight or fight response.

These panic episodes can happen to anyone at anytime; this is because it is generally attributed to external stimuli/factors. However, if this is experienced on more than one occasion, there is a possibility that one could have what is known as a panic disorder.

This contrasts with what we perceive to be an anxiety attack, which is typically caused by recurring stress factors in our daily lives. When someone has recurring or long-lasting feelings of anxiety, this is typically defined as general anxiety disorder (GAD).

Are there medications for anxiety and panic disorders?

As we stated previously there is a difference between having a panic disorder versus an attack. If one experiences more than one panic attack in relative succession, it could mean that they have a panic disorder. If this is the case, there are loads of treatments and medications available to make this condition more manageable.

Interestingly, medications which are used to treat panic disorder and medications that are used to treat general anxiety disorder are virtually the same. This does not mean that every medication on the market can be used for both conditions seamlessly, but most are interchangeable when treating both general anxiety disorder and panic disorder.

Medications that are commonly prescribed to treat both conditions are SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), SNRI’s (Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors), Tricyclic antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and beta-blockers. These medications can be used to treat someone suffering from a panic attack or similar response. However, some of these are more powerful than others and should be taken with caution or specific to their treatment plan.

How do mediations for stressful conditions work?

Now that we have answered the question – what is an anxiety attack? – You probably want to know how the medications we mentioned previously work. So, let us have a look at how some of the medications we have mentions previously help us deal with both general anxiety disorder and panic disorders. First off, we have both SSRI’s and SNRI’s; these medications work by limiting the amount of serotonin your brain reabsorbs.

In doing so, these medications help alleviate the physical symptoms of anxiety and create a sense of calm and relaxation in the user. These medications are not as fast acting as some of the other medications we have mentioned, but they can be used for much longer, are arguably more consistent and produce far less side effects.

Tricyclic antidepressants are an older type of medication; they were designed to treat depression, but are also used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. These produced a number of uncomfortable side effects when used for prolonged periods, therefore they are not as commonly used these days. They work by allowing blocking of certain neurotransmitters, increasing your serotonin count.

Lastly, we have benzodiazepines. Medications of this nature are commonly prescribed for both conditions concerning panic and anxiety. These medications are powerful sedatives, and just like antidepressants are classified as controlled substances, so you will need a prescription to get them. Some online pharmacies, however, have simplified processes. These meds work by slowing down your brain’s functions and by creating a sense of calm for the user.

Why should I consider medication for anxiety or panic disorder?

In our lives there can be more than few things, which stress us out. These stress factors are what cause symptoms of anxiety to manifest. General anxiety disorder can lead to a number of related conditions, including insomnia if not treated. The same can be said for those suffering from panic disorders, if help is not sought as soon as possible things could escalate dramatically.

That is why these medications exist. They are there to assist us in coping with the symptoms of these respective conditions, however they should never be viewed as a cure. These medications are normally prescribed in conjunction with cognitive behavioural therapy, which patients use to determine the source of their anxiety and/or the trigger for their panic episodes.

The medications allow patients to take advantage of or maximise these therapy sessions in a sense, without having to deal with the physical symptoms of anxiety or panic at the same time. In addition, with consistent work and attendance, most people overcome these disorders in the long run.

Whether you are currently on treatment for generalised anxiety disorder or panic disorder, hopefully, you feel a bit more confident and knowledgeable on the topic. You may even be able to educate others about the benefits of treatment. In addition to answering FAQs like, what is an anxiety attack, you can be a bit more informed on the possible treatment options as well.