Do you know how to spot an anxiety attack?
If you or a family member has an anxiety diagnosis, you’re likely aware of the common signs an attack is coming. But what you may not know is there are subtle, uncommon signs to watch for too.
Read on for these seven unexpected signs of an anxiety attack so you know how to spot them next time.
Unexpected Signs That Your Having an Anxiety Attack
1. You’re Taking Many Fast & Deep Breaths
A lot of anxiety suffers find that they expel nervous energy by taking deep breaths. It’s most common to happen in social situations.
These breaths will often be fast, frequent and deep. It’s a sign that you or your loved one may be feeling overwhelmed in the moment.
With the help of a therapist, this can help control this reaction. Click for more information on other ways to help ease social anxiety.
2. You Can’t Concentrate
For a lot of people, concentrating is an issue with anxiety. One study found out of 157 children and teens with general anxiety, two-thirds had concentration issues. In another study of 175 adults, almost 90% reported an issue with concentration.
The worse their anxiety got, the more issues they had trying to concentrate. One reason for this could be that anxiety interrupts the brain’s short-term memory.
This makes it harder to store immediate information around them. And it only intensifies when anxiety is building up. If you or a loved one is experiencing increased strain and issues when concentrating, it may be a sign to watch.
3. You’re Cracking Your Knuckles
We all crack our knuckles every now and then, as it can be a soothing relief. But if you’re always doing it in company, it’s a sign a nervous energy.
Cracking our knuckles is a self-soothing habit. With nerves within the knuckle joints, when we “pop” them, the joints stretch. This gives us a quick hit of a good sensation.
If you’re have an anxiety attack coming, you may be fidgeting with or cracking your knuckles more. Almost like an obsession.
4. You’re Picking Your Skin Or You’re Biting Your Nails
Picking your skin or biting your nails is a habit often picked up in childhood. But it can stay with us into our adult years. The act of picking at hangnails, loose nails, or biting nails off is a distraction.
You may do it to distract you from whatever discomfort you’re experiencing. It’s something else to focus your attention on.
If you’re picking or biting more often, this could be a sign of an impending attack. You should also try to stop biting your nails or picking your skin, as this can cause you physical harm.
5. You’ve Been Interrupting People
Do you ever notice yourself cutting people off mid sentence? Or do you finish their sentences for them? This is a sign of anxiety in social situations. You don’t mean to do it, it’s a coping mechanism.
Again, if you notice that you or a loved one is doing this more often, it could be a sign that their anxiety in increasing. They may even start to struggle with paying attention to conversation at all.
Look out for this sign, coupled with some of the other coping mechanisms on this list. It’ll likely present together with things like a lack of concentration. Or from any of the physical coping mechanisms like nail biting or knuckle cracking.
6. You’re Experiencing More Sleeping Difficulties
You may have trouble falling asleep and switching your mind off. Or, it might come in the form of waking in the middle of the night often. Then struggling to go back to sleep.
Studies have looked at sleep issues in childhood and the effects it may have. Results showed it increased their risk of developing emotional disorders later in life. This included anxiety.
Anxiety and insomnia have a close link. But experts don’t know which one triggers the other, or if they both do.
If you or a loved one is experiencing increased insomnia and sleeping issues, it can be a sign of an attack. Keep an eye on sleeping patterns.
And try to encourage good sleeping practices where possible. Treating the insominia can help reduce anxiety levels and help stave off an attack.
7. You’re Avoiding Social Situations Where Possible
Anxiety attacks happen when you’re overwhelmed. It can be one big thing that triggers it, or a build up of smaller events. You may feel yourself getting more and more anxious over time.
The idea of attending social events will start to feel more overwhelming than usual. You or your loved one will cancel more. And there will be an increase in worrying about the following:
- Feeling fear and anxiousness about upcoming social events
- Worrying other will judge or scrutinize you
- Fear something humiliating or embarrassing will happen in front of people
If you’re looking to spot it in your loved ones, someone who has a social anxiety will seem shy. They will be quiet in groups, or around new people and may seem withdrawn.
You may not notice any external distress though, it’ll all be internal.
Aloofness may make you think the person is standoffish, or snobby, but that’s not the case. Often, people with social anxiety suffer with depression, high self-criticism and low self-esteem.
Be Aware of What Your Body is Telling You Before an Anxiety Attack
As you can see, there are quite a few possible signs of an anxiety attack. They aren’t all universal, but most sufferers will experience one or all of these. Although it won’t stop an attack, being aware of an anxiety attack will help you to keep it at bay, or reduce the severity.
But if you haven’t been diagnosed, but are a frequent sufferer of these symptoms, it is worth seeking an official diagnosis so you can get treatment.
If you found this article useful, be sure to check out our other blog posts on our website.