Health Symposium

Anxiety Attacks

The fields of medicine that concentrate on mental disorders, such as psychiatry, neurology and psychology, have experienced substantial progress in the 20th century. In addition to the development of many painless, medication-based forms of treatment replacing the horrifying surgical procedures used before, the medical community has also been able to formulate a much better understanding of many common mental problems and conditions.

One of such conditions is anxiety, which has been present and noticeable among humans for millennia and most likely dates back to the time of the first human capable of reasoning and introspection. Furthermore, with the condition having its main symptoms closely tied to one of the most basic emotions, fear, it appears to be present not only among humans but all living creatures that have the ability to perceive direct danger. However, even though the condition is very common for virtually all humans may feel anxiety at one point or another in their lives, some individuals may experience very sudden onsets of the condition in the form of panic attacks.

The condition known as an anxiety attack refers to an overwhelming feelings of fear, confusion or apprehension, which the individual may experience suddenly and without a clear or direct cause. However, this should not be understood simply as heightened levels of fear, or confused with the emotions experienced by an individual facing a clear and present danger. It is common for panic attacks to be ignited by one’s phobias, indifferent of whether the type of phobia poses an actual risk to the person. Furthermore, the individual experiencing such anxiety attacks may feel far more overwhelmed than if they were to be faced with an actual dangerous situation. In other words, an individual having a phobia related to snakes or spiders may in fact experience a far stronger anxiety attack if they come into contact with such animal, than if they were to face a lion or a tiger, which in reality would pose a far greater risk than the former case.

The most typical symptoms of panic attacks are shortness of breath, chest pains, and irregular heartbeat. The individual experiencing an onset of an anxiety attack may begin to suddenly sweat or gasp for breath as if hyperventilating. Furthermore, it is common for these symptoms to further exacerbate the attack itself, sparking a chain reaction leading to much stronger and more overwhelming panic attack. This is especially common for anxiety attacks having their underlying cause related to social activities and interactions. However, the medical and pharmaceutical community has been very successful in formulating several different treatment options for this condition. The most widely prescribed types of medications are substances from the benzodiazepine type such as Xanax, Klonopin and Valium. Furthermore, cognitive-behavioral therapy has been shown to be successful in helping patients deal with their underlying phobias, effectively leading to a lower frequency of such anxiety attacks.