Are you having an anxiety attack? Know the warning signs.

Written by Angela Atkinson

If you’re struggling in a toxic relationship or you’re dealing with narcissistic abuse recovery, there’s a really good chance you might be experiencing anxiety attacks. Many survivors of narcissistic abuse don’t really understand anxiety attack symptoms – but knowledge is the first step to learning to resolve these issues.

Are you having an anxiety attack? 

Did you know that anxiety attack symptoms can sometimes mimic physical problems? It’s true! Anyone who has ever been in a toxic relationship with a narcissist knows intimately what it’s like to be anxious. The scary thing is that the physical symptoms of anxiety and stress can be quite detrimental to your health. Unfortunately, many survivors of narcissistic abuse may be so stressed that they don’t even realize the extent of it or the impact the stress and anxiety could have on their health.

In some cases, the more stress or anxiety you go through, the less likely you are to recognize it. You might have even become so accustomed to their level of stress, and the physical symptoms it produces, that it just feels almost “normal” to you. That’s why learning about and tuning into the symptoms of stress and anxiety can help you to identify potential triggers in your life and in turn help you to better manage them and alleviate the stress and anxiety in your life.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a nervous disorder that is characterized by excessive uneasiness and apprehension, often with compulsive behavior or panic attacks.

What is an Anxiety Attack?

An anxiety attack is similar to a panic attack. It’s what happens when the sudden onset of extreme, intense fear and/or discomfort hits you like a ton of bricks, and it usually peaks within a few minutes. In order to qualify as an anxiety or panic attack, the episode must include at least four of the following symptoms: Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate. Sweating. Trembling or shaking. Shortness of breath or smothering.

What are the symptoms of anxiety?

The physical symptoms of anxiety and stress can vary from one person to the next. Some symptoms may be more serious than others and can even be life-threatening. Some symptoms you experience may be short-term while others may be long-term symptoms.

Short-Term Anxiety Attack Symptoms

Short-term symptoms of anxiety attacks include the following:

  • Cold hands and feet
  • Dry mouth
  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Increased sweating
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

Generally, these short-term side effects appear when your body is responding to a perceived threat. This is how your body helps you prepare to either stay and fight the threatening situation or flee from it; a response is commonly known as fight or flight. While this rush of adrenaline and emotions can be helpful in a truly life-threatening situation, it can have negative impacts during times when there is no immediate danger. It’s not always necessary for modern-day humans, but it’s sort of a leftover automatic response our ancestors needed to survive. For survivors of narcissistic abuse, it can leave you feeling frozen or on-edge all the time.

Long-Term Anxiety Symptoms

Over time these physical symptoms can damage your self-confidence, disrupt the quality of your life and reduce the pleasure you get from your work. In addition, when the body is exposed to these physical symptoms over a long period of time your health can actually start to decline. Long term side effects of stress and anxiety include:

• Sexual disorders
• Changes in appetite
• Insomnia
• Frequent illness
• Back pain
• Asthma
• Headaches
• Digestive problems
• Lethargy
• Restlessness
• Depression
• Irritability

Remember, that one symptom by itself may not necessarily indicate the presence of either short term or long term stress and anxiety. There are other reasons that can result in a single symptom, such as certain medications. The presence of multiple symptoms; however, can indicate a problem. If you notice multiple physical symptoms of anxiety and stress, remember that stress and anxiety management techniques can help you to reduce those symptoms and get back to your old self. Consider checking in with your physician or another medical professional to be sure that you’re not misdiagnosing a bigger problem as anxiety.*

Top 10 Warning Signs That You’re Having an Anxiety Attack

HelpGuide.org lists the following as the top 10 warning signs you’re having an anxiety attack.

  1. The surge of overwhelming panic
  2. The feeling of losing control or going crazy
  3. Heart palpitations or chest pain
  4. Feeling like you’re going to pass out
  5. Trouble breathing or choking sensation
  6. Hyperventilation
  7. Hot flashes or chills
  8. Trembling or shaking
  9. Nausea or stomach cramps
  10. Feeling detached or unreal

Anxiety attack symptoms can be very scary to go through, but they can be managed with the right tools you need to learn how to cope with the anxiety. Yes, it’s scary, but you don’t have to live in the fear. There is help available.

Self-Help Techniques for Overcoming Anxiety Attacks for Narcissistic Abuse Survivors 

Start with this video to learn some helpful techniques to manage anxiety.

*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional and nothing on this website should be taken as medical advice. See full disclaimer.

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