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Anxiety or panic attacks are sudden periods of intense
anxiety, fear and discomfort. While these attacks
might seem to happen for no reason, they?re actually
the body?s response to what it perceives as the need
for "fight or flight".

The attacks usually last about ten minutes, but can be
as short as one minute. In severe cases, these attacks
can happen in cycles. These cycles may last for
extended periods. These cycles can cause
"anticipation" anxiety between episodes.

Physical symptoms of anxiety attacks generally include
shortness of breath, heart palpitations and sweating.
Tingling and numbness in the extremities, dizziness,
lightheadedness, headaches and nausea are also
commonly experienced. These may appear to be random,
but they?re actually the result of the body?s
preparations for protection.

The anxiety attack is brought on by a sudden onset of
fear. In response, the body releases adrenaline
followed by increases in the heart and breathing rate
and production of sweat (to regulate body
temperature).

These actions prepare the body for the physical
activities of fighting or escaping. Because the
anticipated strenuous activity rarely follows the
panic attack, these reactions result in physical
discomfort.

The increased heart rate is felt as heart
palpitations. Rapid breathing (hyperventilation)
results in a drop in carbon dioxide levels in the
lungs and blood.

This leads to the tingling, numbness, dizziness and
lightheadedness. The adrenaline causes a narrowing of
the blood vessels which results in less blood flow to
the head. This also contributes to the lightheadedness
and headaches.