To understand the meaning of the term ìanxiety attack,î it is essential to understand the difference between ìanxietyî and an ìanxiety attack.î Anxiety is a normal emotional state of mind that is caused as a reaction to a stressful situation or a distressing physical condition. This normal condition takes the form of an aberration when the individual continues to experience stress even when the stressful situation or condition is long past or if the individual experiences severe anxiety or stress in the absence of any obvious stress causing conditions. It is often difficult to distinguish between a heart attack and an anxiety attack, as the symptoms for both are almost similar.

An anxiety attack is usually characterized by several or all of the following symptoms; acute escalating tension, pain in the chest, nausea, lightheadedness, dizziness, sweating and loss of one’s perception of one’s ‘self’. The individual is said to be experiencing an anxiety attack when he/she begins to experience several of these symptoms that become severe as the time passes and usually reach a peak within ten minutes.

Anxiety attacks can be divided into several distinct categories, each with its own characteristics and a few symptoms that are common to all categories. The National Institute of Mental Health divides Anxiety disorder into six main categories; panic disorder, a sudden anxiety attack that may be caused due to no apparent reason; generalized anxiety disorder that affects the individual on a daily basis i.e. he/she suffers from chronic tension; obsessive-compulsive disorder, a condition in which the individual suffers from an urgent need to engage in certain rituals and activities without any need for the individual to engage in them; social phobia, a condition in which the individual feels overly anxious in everyday social situations; specific phobias, the attacks that are caused by a fear, usually irrational, of something and Post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition that follows a traumatic event where the individual has persistent thoughts of the event and feels emotionally traumatized.

Medical researchers have discovered a number of reasons that are considered the possible causes for attacks. Genetics, drug abuse, environment and personality characteristics are considered the main culprits that induce attacks. However, there may be many more triggers of anxiety attacks that have yet to be discovered by the medical researchers.

An anxiety attack is usually characterized by several or all of the following symptoms; acute escalating tension, pain in the chest, nausea, lightheadedness, dizziness, sweating and loss of one’s perception of one’s ‘self’.

Almost all cases of anxiety disorders, such as phobias, post traumatic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and others can be treated through behavioral therapy and through medication. The common mental therapy treatment options for people suffering from anxiety disorders are cognitive behavioral therapy, stress relieving or relaxation therapy, exercise and group therapy. Even though the methods of anxiety treatment may be different, all the above-mentioned treatments rely on one underlying principle: i.e. to induce strength and resilience in the individual to be able to face any unpleasant life situation and to face the sources of stress, imaginary or real, with fortitude

One of the most popular anxiety treatment options for anxiety disorder, cognitive behavioral therapy, is based on the principle that our emotions influence our behavior. So, for an individual to function effectively, it is essential that he should think positively and harbor constructive thoughts. The therapist helps the individual to recognize the thoughts and the beliefs that are unpleasant to the individual and strengthens him by devising a strategy to face the situations and thoughts that are unpleasant and fear provoking for him. The cognitive behavioral therapy includes lessons on slow breathing, relaxation techniques and education about anxiety, as well.

Relaxation therapy, another popular means of anxiety treatment, educates the individual about various relaxation techniques that help him to release the muscular and the psychological tension that he experiences every time he faces an undesirable situation. The relaxation techniques could include exercises on slow breathing, isometric relaxation, meditation, visualization and self-hypnosis. The individual should practice these relaxation techniques on a regular basis and especially when he feels that he may experience an anxiety attack soon, due to the increase in the anxiety level triggered by some unpleasant source.