The anxiety spectrum affects up to 18.1 percent of the adult population in the United States, making it the most prevalent mental health illness. While some degree of anxiety is a natural and healthy reaction to unfamiliar events or places, the extreme forms can be debilitating.
Panic attack, a severe type of anxiety, presents with intense fear, worry, or restlessness. This might make even the usual daily tasks impossible. Many patients often feel a complete loss of control when severe forms of anxiety set in.
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The associated physical symptoms of racing heartbeats, breathlessness, and increased sweating worsen the situation even further. It’s, therefore, not uncommon to find individuals who experience the disorder tend to worry about anxiety attack fatality. But can anxiety kill you?
The good news: despite how scary the mayhem may be, an anxiety disorder cannot kill you. With the current pharmacological and non-medical treatment options, you can manage any form of anxiety adequately and go about your businesses as usual.
What Are the Constitutional Symptoms of Anxiety?
Anxiety has a wide array of presentations which varies with the types.
You can suffer from the following array of presentations, and all have their tell-tale symptoms:
- General anxiety disorder
- Social anxiety
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
For instance, a panic attack manifests with shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, and a going-crazy-like feeling, mimicking a heart attack. On average, such episodes tend to last less than half an hour, and the severity varies from person to person.
Notwithstanding, some of the general indicators of anxiety include:
- Worry, distress, and feeling of helplessness
- Chest tightening or choking sensation
- Unusual rapid heartbeats (palpitations)
- Dry mouth and nausea
- Sudden profuse sweating with no significant activity
- Tingling or numbing sensation in the extremities
- Tremors and shaking with chills
- Headache, dizziness, or lightheadedness
- Unexplained sudden onset chest pain
- A feeling of going crazy
- Fear of death in some instances
- Lack of sleep
- Avoidance of people or events
Can Anxiety or Panic Attacks Kill You?
As severe as this cluster of mental health disorders might be, anxiety can never kill you. However, repeated episodes of prolonged panic or anxiety attacks predispose you to multiple long-term health complications.
Although the causal relationship between anxiety attacks and cardiovascular disease has not been clearly defined, there’s a possible association between the two. Again, you might experience a change in your sleep patterns following frequent bouts of anxiety.
Typically, panic attacks are more severe than anxiety attacks, but they have nearly the same consequences. The latter is usually triggered by events, while the former occurs out of the blues and gives a heart attack-like feeling.
Does Anxiety Kill Your Sleep?
Research has shown that generalized anxiety disorder can lead to significant deterioration of sleep quality which puts you at risk of chronic medical conditions.
For example, you might develop the following conditions if you have insomnia:
What to Do During an Anxiety Attack
Knowing anxiety can’t kill is crucial in dealing with the draining attacks you might be experiencing.
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In addition, you can use these strategies to remain calm during an episode of intense fear and nervousness:
Recognizing anxiety attack as soon as it sets in is the first step in handling the disorder.
You can whisper to yourself phrases like: This is an anxiety attack, and I know it’s not going to kill me to help you calm down. Writing such notes on paper and carrying them along with you is also effective.
Taking a deep breath through your nose for approximately four seconds, then slowly exhaling through the mouth for another four seconds is also therapeutic. Repeat this process as much as you can.
Shifting Your Focus
Changing your focus from the anxiety trigger can help you relax. So if you can, do other things such as playing a mobile game or watching a comedy.
Keeping a Journal
A record of previous anxiety attacks, including their duration and triggers, can help you feel in control as it enables you to predict the course of events.
Remember: Despite the degree of the attack, anxiety will not kill you!
Treatment of Anxiety
Since anxiety is highly unlikely to kill you, you may not need to see an expert.
However, if it begins to interfere with your social relationships and cause depression, or if you have other medical conditions like heart disease, you should visit a doctor as early as possible.
Increased frequency of anxiety spells also warrants a visit to a health professional.
The treatment options available for the management of panic attacks include:
It attempts to correct the negative patterns in the perception of the environment, is the primary therapy used to treat anxiety. You can also benefit from exposure therapy.
Drugs such as benzodiazepines(alprazolam, clonazepam) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (fluoxetine) will give you anxiety relief. Noteworthy, you should not take these drugs without a doctor’s prescription.
Besides medication, anxiety can be treated through a number of methods- Click the button below to get the most suitable treatment.
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