Your heart is beating fast. You feel dizzy, your palms are sweaty, your stomach is upset, and you feel like something bad is about to happen. You may be experiencing the signs of an anxiety attack, where the body’s fight or flight system goes into overdrive without warning.
Anxiety attacks are one of the most common anxiety disorders, experienced by millions of Americans each year. They can be extremely troubling as they make you feel as if something is physically wrong. Even worse, as you’re experiencing signs of an anxiety attack, you can also become susceptible to substance abuse issues.
What are the signs of an anxiety attack? How do you address them?
What Is An Anxiety Attack?
Anxiety is a normal part of living — an innate mechanism that helps us sense danger and protect ourselves. Sometimes, though, our “fight or flight” response engages with no trigger. We start feeling the signs of anxiety for what seems like no good reason. Medical professionals call this an anxiety attack.
Anxiety attacks have several potential causes, ranging from genetics to chemical imbalances, to the overuse of caffeine or illegal substances. And substance abuse and anxiety attacks are known to hit simultaneously — a condition known as a “co-occurring disorder.”
Repeated anxiety attacks can translate into a condition known as panic disorder. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that about 6 million Americans suffer from panic disorder each year — about 3 percent of adults over the age of 18.
Signs of An Anxiety Attack
Anxiety attacks don’t ask permission. They fool us into thinking something is wrong and send us into doctor’s offices and emergency rooms in fear for our health.
The symptoms are real. Among the signs of an anxiety attack:
- Uncontrolled panic
- Feeling like you’re going crazy
- Racing heart or chest pain
- Dizziness, feeling like you might faint
- Choking or trouble breathing
- Trembling or shaking
- Nausea, stomach cramps
Don’t let anyone talk you out of taking these symptoms seriously. You must pay attention to them if only to rule out serious physical problems. Over time, you can develop coping skills to help you ride past the signs of an anxiety attack.
Anxiety Attacks and Substance Abuse
Anxiety disorders correlate closely with substance abuse. The mechanisms are obvious. If you have not sought treatment for anxiety attacks, you may be at greater risk of self-medicating — trying to put the flames of anxiety out with alcohol or illegal drugs.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that anxiety sufferers are two to three times more likely to experience a substance abuse disorder in their lives than others.
There are other concerns, as well. Sometimes mental health and substance abuse issues occur simultaneously, resulting in what’s called a “dual-diagnosis” disorder. About 20 percent of people in each category end up struggling with both mental health and substance abuse conditions in parallel.
Treatment of dual-diagnosis conditions requires focused, integrated treatment where professionals address the entirety of a person’s needs at once.
Bottom line: if you are experiencing signs of an anxiety attack, get treated before your situation gets worse.
Turning Down the Temperature
The signs of an anxiety attack take on many forms. Sometimes the aftermath of an attack can lead to further consequences, such as excessive use of alcohol or drugs. Addressing your anxiety can reduce that risk, but if you’re already struggling with substance abuse, let the professionals at Right Step Houston help you. Our team of specialists provides alcohol and drug counseling that can help you secure a life of sobriety. Our programs include alcohol addiction treatment, medical drug detox programs, and addiction therapy programs, along with various aftercare programs. So call us today for a confidential consultation at 1.844.768.0169.