What Is An Anxiety/Panic Attack - Why Does It Happen?
Posted on 3rd January 2021
During an anxiety attack or panic attack your body and mind are responding to a perceived threat.
It is your body’s way of taking care of you and works automatically, letting you know that there is danger before you have time to mentally process your situation.
This begins with the amygdala recognising the threat. The amygdala is the part of your brain responsible for motivation and emotional behaviour.
A message is then sent from your hypothalamus which tells your pituitary gland what hormones need to be released and from where. This in turn activates the autonomic sympathetic nervous system preparing you for danger.
Whilst this is happening the symptoms include things such:
as increased heart rate
inhibition of saliva production
dilation of pupils
relaxing of the lungs (causing breathlessness)
a release of glucose and adrenaline (also known as the stress hormone) into your bloodstream.
These are all side effects designed to help you escape or fight the danger.
This is believed to be a very old process that has been necessary for the survival of humans and is a very normal reaction. It is however, an old part of the brain responding to new problems and isn’t always welcome or appropriate in new situations where a calm and measured approach to a situation is more often than not needed.
During the onset of an anxiety attack the racing mind and knowledge of the potential anxiety attack that is coming can exacerbate the problem.
For many, the feeling of a racing heartbeat can lead to unwelcome thoughts of heart attacks causing more panic. There are many techniques that are helpful including distraction techniques such as naming objects in the room or jumping up and down.
Anxiety attacks can be triggered by times of change and various day to day stressors such as work, health, relationships or finances. Any low-level anxiety that is left and not dealt with over time can have the potential to manifest in an anxiety attack.
A great remedy for this is self-awareness through things like meditation and yoga which help to engage the calming parasympathetic nervous systems and help to bring you back to a more pleasant state.
If you are struggling with anxiety or would like to know more, please book a call with me to see how I can help you.
Share this post: