Anxiety Attack Symptoms: Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety

Anxiety attack symptoms can range from being short of breath with anxiety to full blown panic attacks. Indeed, sometimes a panic attack can mimic a heart attack which frightens many people even more.

Many times the first symptom of an anxiety attack can be just a vague sense of unease and you don't really know what is going on. As things progress, chest pain may occur but it is usually not the chest pain associated with cardiac problems. This chest pain is more superficial, not deep like cardiac pain. It is also localized usually in the upper left of the chest and feels like something is "grabbing" at the muscles.

Other symptoms include sweating, and becoming short of breath. The more these symptoms escalate or worsen, the higher the sense of panic becomes.

Why Do I Get Numbness?

One of the most common things that happens with anxiety is numbness and tingling. If this has never happened before, it can be somewhat alarming! These symptoms usually occur on one side of the body and people describe tingling on half of their face and half of the same side of the body. Weakness may also happen and as a result it looks and feels like a stroke! More panic.

These symptoms are NOT neurologic! How do we know? Well true neurologic deficits (like a stroke) are one half of the face and the OPPOSITE side of the body.

Rarely, (and I mean rarely) these symptoms can occur many times a month, become severely disabling and may lead to a condition called conversion disorder.

This doesn't mean that a work up shouldn't be done..it should. But if everything comes back normal then it is important to accept the fact that physical symptoms of anxiety do happen and the answer is to treat the anxiety not the symptoms.

Many times patients will tell me that all of asudden they will get some unexplained weakness and feel "off". These symptoms can last up to an hour at a time and may include a sense of doom. Often times these people will go to the emergency room and discover that they have had a panic attack.

Things That Make Anxiety Worse:

All of the following will worsen anxiety by irritating the nervous system:
  • smoking
  • excess caffeine
  • irregular sleep cycles or less sleep nightly
  • chronic pain syndromes like migraine
  • fibromyalgia
  • untreated depression

If anxiety is moderate to severe, please keep in mind that this is a neurobiological disorder..in other words a true chemical imbalance in the brain. While making lifestle changes will help, it only goes so far and medication may be needed to augment these changes and help calm anxiety attack symptoms.

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