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Introduction to Acute Anxiety and Treatments

Micah Abraham, BSc
Introduction to Acute Anxiety and Treatments

Many people experience a type of long, drawn out, chronic anxiety that they live with every day. This type of anxiety reduces your quality of life, but it is manageable, in that it rarely gets too severe and instead provides this persistent feeling of unease that takes away from your daily activities.

But there is another type of anxiety - acute anxiety - that is so severe that it can cause you to feel like the world around you is collapsing. Acute anxiety often goes by another name: "panic attacks," and they're a type of anxiety that is extremely stressful and can cause you to feel like you are losing control.

Diagnosing Acute Anxiety

Acute anxiety is diagnosed through its symptoms, which are often extremely physical.

Don't let the name fool you. There is nothing mild about acute anxiety. Acute anxiety is moments of severe anxiety and panic that are so powerful it can feel like you are having a heart attack. Symptoms may include:

They peak within about 10 minutes and then slowly decline, and throughout it all, you will find yourself over-aware of the way you feel, as though something is wrong with your health.

Acute anxiety is often brought on by stress. But it is possible for acute anxiety to be brought on by nothing at all, or for an attack to occur _because_ you're worried about acute anxiety. Acute anxiety may also cause a host of physical symptoms, and often land people in the hospital that are afraid that they just had a serious health attack.

Panic Attacks, Acute Anxiety, and Other

Acute anxiety is not necessarily a technical term, so in some cases, it may refer to any attack of extreme, significant anxiety that comes on suddenly. For example, in moments of intense fear - like when you're confronted with a phobia or even when you're truly in danger - it is possible to have a period of time with severe, intense anxiety that ultimately goes away. That may also be considered acute anxiety under the broad definition.

But most of the time, acute anxiety refers to a panic attack. When you have severe acute anxiety attacks or you constantly live in fear of an anxiety attack, you may be diagnosed with panic disorder.

How to Stop Acute Anxiety Attacks

Responding to acute anxiety attacks is a process. It involves making sure that you reduce the overall stress in your life, responding to some of the physical triggers that often lead to anxiety attacks, and learning how to prevent yourself from increasing the severity of the attacks.

Some doctors prescribe medications, and cognitive behavioral therapy has been proven to be incredibly valuable for those that suffer from severe anxiety. But there are other strategies you can use as well:

Each of these represents only the first step, however. Truly preventing acute anxiety requires a commitment to your own mental health and the ability to genuinely recognize what you need to control your panic.

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