IPFW/Parkview Student Assistance Program

What is Anxiety and Panic?

Anxiety isn’t always bad. Anxiety can be the body’s way of telling us that it is normal to feel tense, worried, or scared when we are under pressure or facing stressful situations.

Anxiety is a natural emotional response to danger or threats of danger. This signals our reaction to “fight or flight” response. An example would be if you are about to be in a car accident. A lot of situations are more difficult to fight or flee. An example may be worrying what others think of you, or the anxiety related to taking a test. 

So a moderate level of anxiety is normal in daily living and in performing successfully. But high levels of anxiety over long periods of time can make us physically ill or cause psychological problems.

Emotional symptoms include:

  • feeling dread or apprehension
  • being easily startled or jumpy
  • poor concentration
  • irritability 
  • depression  
  • preparing for the worst 

Physical symptoms that accompany the emotional symptoms may include:

  • heart pounding
  • sweating
  • dizziness or nausea
  • fainting
  • shortness of breath
  • muscle tension
  • rapid breathing
  • fatigue and insomnia 

Are you avoiding everyday situations or activities because they increase your anxiety? Do you feel danger could happen at any moment? You may struggle with anxiety if you feel like you’re in a constant state of tension or worry or suffer from irrational fears. Anxiety may then begin to affect work or school.

Many folks who struggle with anxiety also struggle with depression. If you are distracted with constant worry and fear during your daily activities or you have constant feelings of dread, or if you feel like something bad will happen to you, you may struggle with a General Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

Intense fears, anxiety and panic can cause panic attacks. Panic attacks can occur suddenly, without any warning. There may be a recognized trigger. In other situations attacks just happen. Panic attacks can last anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour. During this period people describe feeling like they are having a heart attack or are going to die. Fear then begins to plague them. They begin to fear and anticipate the next panic attack.

Symptoms of panic attacks may include:

  • feeling crazy
  • loss of control
  • heart racing or pounding
  • feeling faint
  • hyperventilation
  • sweating
  • nausea, stomach cramps, or diarrhea
  • hot flashes or chills
  • a surge of panic that feels overwhelming 

Treatment may include cognitive behavioral therapy, systematic desensitization, medication, relaxation techniques, biofeedback, hypnosis, deep breathing, or meditation.

Be sure to reach out for support, have healthy eating habits, limit caffeine and sugar, increase exercise, avoid alcohol and nicotine, and get plenty of sleep. 

If anxiety continues to cause problems it is important to seek out psychotherapy to assist in restoring balance. Call the IPFW/Parkview Student Assistance Program at 260-266-8060 to schedule an appointment. 

The IPFW/Parkview Student Assistance Program also offers a support group for those who struggle with anxiety. Call 260-266-8060 to be scheduled for an assessment.