The symptoms of an anxiety or panic attack can look different from person to person
An anxiety attack or panic attack is the abrupt onset of an intense feeling of fear or discomfort — and the rapid build-up of these intense feelings can present themselves in a variety of ways. One Twitter user wants to shed light on what this can look like from person to person — and it definitely hit home for those who suffer from anxiety attacks.
In popular culture, anxiety attacks are often represented as bouts of shaking, rocking oneself back and forth, sweating, and breathing-into-a-paper-bag scenarios. While this are all accurate representations for some people, for many others anxiety and panic can look wildly different.
“Sometimes they can be bouts of rage, moments of complete silence, nit-picking, fast-paced talking…there are so many forms of anxiety attacks,” says Twitter user @petiteelliee_. “Just because it’s not ‘conventional’ doesn’t mean it’s not real.”
Her tweet quickly went viral, clearly resonating with a ton of people.
*Raises hand* I know I can relate heavily to the angry/agitated side of anxiety. It’s a relief to know I’m not alone.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says “panic attacks can occur unexpectedly during a calm state or in an anxious state. Although panic attacks are a defining characteristic of panic disorder, it is not uncommon for individuals to experience panic attacks in the context of other psychological disorders. For example, someone with social anxiety disorder might have a panic attack before giving a talk at a conference and someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder might have a panic attack when prevented from engaging in a ritual or compulsion.”
Last week, I was on vacation with my immediate family and in-laws. It was the first vacation my husband and I were able to organize and pay for ourselves and it felt really nice to be able to do that. We were looking forward to it for months. While we made some amazing memories with everyone — our toddler especially — there were a handful of periods where my anxiety peaked and I became agitated, on-edge, and unable to relax. I fielded multiple, “Are you alright? Are you mad about something?” questions all week, which only made me feel shame at being unable to control my reaction to my anxiety.
Viral threads like this one are important because it helps enlighten us all a bit about anxiety attacks, and hopefully leads to more empathy for those who deal with them regularly. Because sometimes, we don’t even know we’re in the middle of a bout of anxiety when we’re having one.