Typical Anxiety Symptoms
Going over and over something in your mind
Unable to push unwanted thoughts away
Unable to settle
Difficulties with sleep
Feeling on edge, restless, unable to concentrate
Tightness in your chest
Having an uneasy feeling that something is wrong
Severe anxiety symptoms / Panic Attack
A panic attack will pass. Most panic attacks last between five and twenty minutes. They are not dangerous but can feel very frightening and overwhelming at the time.
Your heart is probably pumping fast and you may feel light headed, dizzy and faint. You may be shaky and trembling and your breathing could be affected. You might feel sweaty and cold at the same time.
Perhaps you feel afraid of losing control, of going mad or of dying.
Understanding Anxiety Symptoms
When we are in sudden danger our muscles need to work quickly and effectively so that we can freeze, fight or run. Straight away our bodies release hormones into the blood stream. Adrenaline is the main hormone, causing various changes in our bodies, hence the symptoms above.
During a panic attack your body and mind is reacting as if you were in immediate danger, although anxiety is usually related to ongoing stresses, worries and fears in our lives.
If you have experienced very frightening symptoms, being afraid of having them again is understandable. For some people this becomes the focal point of their anxiety. You might be afraid of experiencing a panic attack and worried about how other people will react if they see you in a state of anxiety.
How you can help yourself during a panic attack
Slow your breathing down if it has become fast and shallow
Slowly take in deep breaths through your nose and release them slowly through your mouth
Keep repeating to yourself 'its okay' or any other phrase which you find soothing
Ground yourself by pressing your feet into the ground and feeling its solidness
Rest into a chair and feel its support around you
How counselling can help
Describing symptoms to your counsellor can reduce their strength and frequency over time, even if what you experience is quite vague and difficult to articulate. Giving yourself this attention and being listened to with care and understanding can be a relief.
By talking about your fears and anxieties, perhaps several times, you can put them into perspective until they become less overwhelming and more manageable.
You can work with underlying causes of your anxiety. These may stem from past and recent experiences.
You may be able to learn more about your anxiety by getting a sense of how it feels in your body. For example there might be a restless feeling in your legs. If you can stay with that feeling something else might emerge. Perhaps you become aware of wanting to run away from something.
You can also work with feelings that are associated with anxiety such as fear, shame and feeling powerless.