Having an anxiety attack can be a very frightening event, particularly when being experienced for the first time. There is a sense of being out of control, with feelings of fear or panic. Sometimes a person having an anxiety attack will feel completely frozen, unable to think or move.
We are all accustomed to the experience of anxiety. Just about everything we do or that happens to us in life has the potential to cause us anxiety. However, from an early age, we learn a great deal about what to expect from our environment, to recognize the conditions that make us feel safe, and the situations that make us feel that we are or could be in danger.
Someone sitting peacefully in their home may suddenly feel anxious at the sound of someone or something knocking on their back door, especially late at night. Anxiety will also be aroused upon hearing that a friend has met with an accident and been taken to the hospital, and the closer your relationship with someone, the more intense will be your anxiety. Anxiety can also occur as a result of fearing that your home will be burgled, for no other reason than that you know homes often are, or fearing that someone might have had an accident and been taken to the hospital, when they are running a few minutes late. Suffering trauma or hearing traumatic news can make you feel anxious too, but experiencing any of these types of anxiety is a not real anxiety attack. However anxious you may feel, about any of the above events, you know the reason for it, and hopefully can remain composed enough to decide on some positive responsive action to it.
The onset of an anxiety attack will come quite out of the blue, with no apparent cause or reason and that alone can be one of the most frightening aspects of an anxiety attack. Once someone has suffered an anxiety attack in a particular set of circumstances, they may then develop a fear of placing themselves in those or similar circumstances ever again.
In general terms, an anxiety attack occurs when a person feels, and for no apparent reason, somewhat threatened by their immediate environment. You may be walking in a park and suddenly feel a need to get back home, or waiting at a checkout and cannot bear to wait in line, in more extreme cases, you may avoid going shopping or even leaving home.
There are two basic mindsets that can provoke an anxiety attack, one is the fear of constriction, a lack of control and envelopment, the other a fear of being alone, abandoned and unsupported in the world. Often people will suffer their first anxiety attack at a time when they feel fragile emotionally about their circumstances in life. The reasons why a person may feel unable to cope with their circumstances in life may date back to early child hood experience or be simply because they are going through a difficult time of self-doubt and are lacking in self esteem.
The physical symptoms of an anxiety attack are extremely uncomfortable but not life threatening and if you do your best to stay calm, the symptoms will soon settle down.
If you are with someone who is suffering from an anxiety attack, you need to stay calm and re-assuring. You may be asked to take the person home, or perhaps just a cup of tea will be sufficient to help them to recover. Reassure the sufferer that their symptoms will soon pass, that they are not about to faint or die, and it may be appropriate to put an arm around their shoulder or perhaps hold their hand, which physical contact is sometimes needed if the person feels isolated and alone.