Anxiety disorder is one of the most globally experienced mental illnesses next to depression. Compared to panic, anxiety is a fear of fear itself and fearful situations. Panic attacks are focused on the fear of dying. When someone experiences an anxiety attack, they are not experiencing over death, though they may have so much anxiety they “feel like dying”. Distinctively, anxiety attacks do not include the physical sensations panic attacks do. Instead, anxiety attacks are characterized by pulsing adrenaline, heart rate, and cortisol. Anxiety is about feeling stressed, typically in social situations. Social anxiety disorder is the anxiety experienced in social interactions, whereas generalized anxiety disorder can cause anxiety attacks over anything. Instead of using the stress and fear hormones to react accordingly, anxiety interprets the hormones as more fear and danger.
Anxiety vs Panic
People who experience panic are usually lively in between episodes of panic attacks. Anxiety is much more fearful. People can develop agoraphobia or avoidant personality disorders as a result of their anxieties. The fear of fear or social interaction will become so great, they choose to isolate and remain indoors, away from people, places, and things that make them anxious. People who live with anxiety attacks are usually not in fear of their next anxious episode, since they are likely expecting it.
How to Treat an Anxiety Attack
- Don’t calm down: telling someone with anxiety to “calm down” is incredibly counterproductive. They are not choosing to feel anxious. Their response feels out of their control. Begin a calming process by reminding yourself that you are probably anxious, and that is okay.
- Validate your emotions: fighting your fears will make them worse. In an anxiety attack, you’re feeling like everything is wrong. Give yourself the tender love and care you need to make it through.
- Breathe: meditation apps can help you manage your anxiety. Using a guided meditation or the sound of someone’s breath can help you to bring your heart rate to normal and focus on your breathing instead of the fearful thoughts in your mind.
- Drink Water: using cool water to hydrate your body while it is in a hormonal reaction state is grounding. The water will help distract you from overwhelming thinking, and literally cool down your system.