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

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

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.

Resources for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support

Helpful Reading for Narcissistic Abuse Survivors

Toxic Relationships: 44 warning signs you’re being emotionally abused

Toxic Relationships: 44 warning signs you’re being emotionally abused

44 Warning Signs That You're Being Emotionally Abused by a NarcissistAs someone who has survived and thrived despite having experienced various forms of emotional abuse, thanks to involvement with narcissists in my own life, it was often hard to see while I was in the “thick of it.”

So how do you know if the relationship is really emotionally abusive? When it’s physical abuse, it’s often pretty obvious, but emotional abuse can be incredibly hard to detect, especially if your victimizer is a narcissist.

On the plus side, there are plenty of warning signs.

If your significant other is a narcissist, he (or she) might engage in certain narcissistic behaviors and types of manipulation, such as the ever-pervasive gaslighting tactic that is the bane of so many victims of narcissistic relationships.

How to Know if You’re Being Emotionally Abused

Does your significant other:

  1. Isolate you and prevent you from spending time with friends or family members?
  2. Force you to account for your time when apart from him?
  3. Act really jealous and possessive sometimes?
  4. Make excessive and unreasonable demands for your attention, even to the detriment of your other responsibilities?
  5. Make everything “all about him?”
  6. Make you the scapegoat for all the arguments or problems in the relationship?
  7. Consider himself the “boss” and insist on making all the decisions in your relationship/family/life?
  8. Snoop through your stuff? Does he refuse to allow any privacy? Does he go through your mail, hack your email or Facebook account or go through your personal belongings?
  9. Get excessively angry without warning or over tiny things?
  10. Have the whole “Jekyll and Hyde” deal happening – where one side of him seems  charming or even sweet and loving, while the other is mean, spiteful and downright hurtful?
  11. Play games with your head? Tell lies in order to confuse you or blame you for something you didn’t do?
  12. Become overly critical of everything about you when you don’t do what he wants?
  13. Take control of everything in your life, such as your finances?
  14. Feel entitled to everything from your attention and UNCONDITIONAL respect, regardless of how he treats you?
  15. Feel entitled to your financial or other kinds of support?
  16. Cause damage and/or give away/steal your personal property?
  17. Harass you whenever you’re away from him because you have to be (such as work or school)?
  18. Make threats about how he will “ruin you” or otherwise cause trouble for you at work, to your family or to others?
  19. Say overly critical things about your body and appearance?
  20. Have weird sexual issues?
  21. Become excessively pushy or forceful about sex, or even hurt you during sex?
  22. Become angry or sullen (or even display narcissistic injury) if you don’t go along with his sexual demands?
  23. Drink excessively or take drugs, and then blame his awful behavior on alcohol, drugs or his own history of abuse or tragedy earlier in his life?
  24. Pressure you to use alcohol or other drugs, even when you say no?
  25. Cause you to become anxious about confronting him about literally anything?
  26. Threaten you with physical harm or make you feel afraid of how he will react when you speak or act in general?
  27. Manipulate you with the constant threat of mood changes and impending narcissistic rage?
  28. Make you feel like you’re always “walking on eggshells” or living with constant stress, anxiety or generally in fear?
  29. Withhold affection in order to punish you?
  30. Give you the “silent treatment” when you don’t do what he wants?
  31. Humiliate you?
  32. Expect you to ask for permission to do stuff, as though you’re a child?
  33. Threaten to hurt himself when he doesn’t get his way or if you threaten to leave?

Physical Abuse: DO NOT WAIT! 

Listen, emotional abuse is awful and can make you completely miserable. But physical abuse is a whole other ball of wax. While you should never stay in an abusive situation, you have to remember that when physical abuse is a factor, there is absolutely no fixing it – and your life could literally depend on you getting away safely.

Ask yourself, does your significant other:

  1. Physically abuse you in any way? Push, shove, grab, punch, hits or strike you with hands or fists?
  2. Threaten or assault you with weapons, such as household objects or knives?
  3. Blame you for his abusive behavior, saying things such as “look what you made me do,” or “well, if you hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have had to hit you?”

If so, there is no time to waste – get help and get out before it’s too late. Here are some resources for you.

Sexual Abuse: GET OUT NOW!

According to Dr. Phil, the following are signs of sexual abuse. If you’re being sexually abused, you can’t wait – you need to get out ASAP. If you don’t have any support (which is unfortunately common for victims of narcissism and abuse, since abusers often isolate their victims), start here, and check out these resources as well.

You are being sexually abused if your partner:

  1. Views women as objects and believes in rigid gender roles.
  2. Accuses you of cheating or is often jealous of your outside relationships.
  3. Wants you to dress in a sexual way.
  4. Has ever forced or manipulated you into to having sex or performing sexual acts.
  5. Held you down during sex.
  6. Demanded sex when you were sick, tired or after beating you.
  7. Involved other people in sexual activities with you.
  8. Ignored your feelings regarding sex.

More Resources for Victims of Narcissists

Visit the QueenBeeing Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Resources & Support Page

If you’re in an abusive relationship with a narcissist, you might want to read one of these books.

Are you experiencing (or have you experienced) emotional abuse in a toxic relationship? Find out for sure by taking this quiz.

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