Let’s get physical: anxiety symptoms and panic attacks ~ Isabelle Saade
Wondering about anxiety symptoms?

Hey there, hi. There’s really no way for me to tell if you’ve read any of my other blogs and came back for more, or whether maybe you’ve just stumbled upon this one by accident and decided to give it a read. Either way, welcome! Today’s scope is going to cover the physical manifestations of anxiety; the anxiety symptoms and what we like to call, panic attacks.

I think there’s this wide, let’s nicely call it, appropriation of panic attacks AKA anxiety attacks. This meaning, you can often walk around in the streets, school or work and here someone state they’re having or about to have *hold for dramatic effect* ​a panic attack. Those types of ‘panic attacks’, folks, if you haven’t guessed already are not real. They’ve only really served a purpose in dulling down the seriousness of experiencing a panic attack. I mean, I’m sure whatever they’re encountering in that moment is truly stressful whether it be a bad hair day or the printer jamming up, it’s just not a panic attack.

Let me explain why. Below, you’ll find a diagram that details to series of events that occur in the midst of when I am experiencing an anxiety symptom such as a panic attack.

Isabelle’s Panic Attack Pattern

Obviously, for every anxiety sufferer, the pattern that leads to or composes their panic attack varies. As does their trigger. Panic attacks for me are caused by nausea. Bet you’re thinking ‘Isabelle, aren’t they supposed to be caused by something in your mind?’ Ready for a psychology crash course on how to mind associates a trigger with a attack?

Normally, you would have been exposed to a few random panic attacks in the beginning commencement of your anxiety. These are often triggered by a very worrying situation or maybe you are having a particularly bad, anxious day. Then you chuck in it happening a few more times, this time with a common denominator being established. For example, you find yourself having a panic attack every time you step into a bus. Now, everytime you take a bus ride, your brain automatically associates the bus with a panic attack and you go into a thought pattern of ‘oh no I’m on a bus, what if I have another panic attack’ and by the time you get to the bottom of that spiral hill, a panic attack has already ensued. This could not apply to everyone (like I thought for myself at first) but often once you reflect on them you can find a similar theme.

How an brain on anxiety works

Let me show you how my brain works. Every time I had had a panic attack in the past (a few years ago) it started with me feeling not so great in my stomach. Then the pattern (refer to diagram) began. After a couple times of panic attacks happening on their own accord, I began having them with the upping of my dosage of medication. Again, my anxiety coupled with the side effects most antidepressants, it was simply easy for nausea to be the first thing that happened in my panic attack. Now, everytime I feel sick in my stomach, my mind instantly switches to ‘oh no, it’s happening again’. I’m not going to lie and say that I am totally aware of this stimuli conditioning and am instantly able to stop a panic attack in its tracks. 75% of the time, a panic attack happens, the rest I feel the starting symptoms and slow down the process.

I’ve read many personally-written experiences by those who have panic attacks and a common link between theirs and mine is that in the moment when you are going through all those motions, it honestly feels like you’re dying. Not a joke. Seriously. And there really is not much you can do when it begins besides trying to breath and letting it pass.

Anxiety Symptoms

I don’t want you to just assume we anxious minds have panic attacks 24/7, a lot of the time the following common physical anxiety symptoms are usually what keep us company:

  • Sweaty palms (sweaty just in general, to be honest)
  • The shakes
  • Loss of appetite/increase of appetite
  • Loss of sleep/increase of sleep
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Tight chest (feels like you cannot breath and not enough oxygen is getting into your body)
  • Tears
  • Fidgety
  • Psychomotor impairment (reduction in physical movement. E.g. staring at a white wall for ages unphased
  • Forgetfulness
  • Lack of focus (I cannot sit through a full movie!)
  • Upset stomach
  • Dizziness/lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Aches, pains, tense muscles/muscle spasms
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Frequent colds/infections
  • Weight gain/loss
  • Dry mouth
  • Clenched jaw, teeth grinding
  • Hair loss
  • Acne
  • Tingling
  • Obsessive habits
  • Headaches

Most of the time, however, you would never know someone was experiencing any of these anxiety symptoms (or link it to anxiety) because it’s not really something we like to flaunt.
I hope you are now informed on the physical side of anxiety!

Much love always, Isabelle

You can follow Isabelle on Instragram @outofthebleue