Anxiety disorders are the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorders. Anxiety is an incredibly common condition experienced by people of all ages and backgrounds, but its duration can be highly variable. Some people experience only moments of anxiety related to a specific event or situation, while others may experience recurrent and chronic episodes that can last for hours, days, weeks, or months.
When most people think of anxiety, they picture a feeling of intense fear or dread that comes out of nowhere and lingers for hours. While this can certainly happen, it’s essential to understand that different types of anxiety attacks may have different durations and different kinds of symptoms.
This article will explore the different forms of anxiety and how long they last. We’ll also discuss the best ways to achieve relief from anxiety symptoms.
Types Of Anxiety Disorders
There are several different types of anxiety disorders, and they often have different durations. Let’s take a closer look.
General Anxiety Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a chronic form of anxiety that is characterized by feelings of worry, fear, and unease that last for extended periods. It is the most common of all types of anxiety disorders. General anxiety disorder can cause physical symptoms such as restlessness, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, irritability, and muscle tension. People with general anxiety disorder may experience these symptoms daily over the course of several months or even years.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is another type of anxiety characterized by fear, embarrassment, and inadequacy in social situations. While it can sometimes be debilitating, social anxiety disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that typically comes and goes depending on the situation. For example, some people may be anxious while speaking in front of a large group but feel entirely normal when alone or with close friends.
Panic Attacks or Panic Disorder
People with panic disorder commonly experience episodes of intense anxiety, known as panic attacks. Panic attacks are intense episodes of fear and anxiety that come on suddenly and without warning. During a panic attack, people may experience physical sensations such as rapid heart rate, sweating, shaking, nausea, and chest pain. These anxious feelings typically last for several minutes or up to an hour before dissipating completely.
People with panic disorder may worry excessively about having more panic attacks and the implications of their panic attacks and might make changes in their behavior in response to their symptoms.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious mental health condition that can be triggered by a traumatic experience such as physical or sexual abuse, natural disasters, accidents, or war. Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks and nightmares related to the event, difficulty sleeping and concentrating, feelings of fear and emotional numbness, avoidance of triggers associated with the event, feelings of guilt or shame related to the event, heightened startle response, and changes in emotional reactions such as irritability or explosive outbursts.
Finally, phobias are irrational fears of particular objects or situations. They usually result in severe anxiety and fear when people are exposed to the thing or situation they fear. This occurs as a stress response designed to protect the person, but can be very disruptive to daily life. While phobias can vary in severity, most people experience relief once they leave the fearful situation.
How Long Does An Anxiety Attack Last
Every bout of anxiety is different, just as different forms of anxiety disorders are different. The duration and intensity of the symptoms can vary significantly from person to person. While some anxiety disorders may only illicit mild fear and unease, others may result in full-blown panic attacks with physical symptoms such as rapid heart rate, sweating, and shaking.
Most anxiety attacks will generally last for several minutes or an hour. However, it’s important to remember that the effects of anxiety can linger for several hours or even days after the attack.
For example, someone who experiences a panic attack may feel jittery, shaky, and on edge for the rest of the day. They may also experience difficulty concentrating or sleeping due to the lingering effects of anxiety.
Also, after experiencing an anxiety attack, there is an increased chance of experiencing another soon after. This is especially true for people suffering from panic or social anxiety disorder.
Let’s look at some of the most common types of anxiety disorders and how long anxiety attacks last for each of them.
How Long Does Generalized Anxiety Disorder Last?
People with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) may experience prolonged periods of worry, fear, and nervousness that can be hard to control. These feelings can become more intense over time and frequently accompany physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, shortness of breath, muscle tension, and difficulty concentrating. During an anxiety attack, these physical symptoms may become heightened, lasting from several minutes to several hours. The person may also become overwhelmed and ruminate on anxious thoughts and worries.
People with GAD may also experience bouts of panic, during which they feel an intense sense of impending doom or peril. During these moments, they may experience shortness of breath, shaking, increased heart rate, and other physical symptoms. Panic attacks can sometimes lead to a fear of losing control or dying.
How Long Does Social Anxiety Disorder Last?
In comparison, people with a social anxiety disorder (SAD) experience extreme fear and physiological arousal when placed in social situations. They may become preoccupied with worries that they will embarrass or humiliate themselves or that others will judge them negatively.
During an anxiety attack, people with SAD may experience intense physical symptoms of trembling, increased heart rate, sweating, and even nausea. These physical symptoms may become even more intense during an anxiety attack and can interfere with the person’s ability to function normally in a social situation.
People with a social anxiety disorder may be so overwhelmed with fear and distress that they may avoid social problems altogether. If they do enter a social situation, they may have difficulty interacting or speaking typically and may become excessively self-focused. As a result, people with SAD often feel isolated and may suffer from low self-esteem. They may struggle to form meaningful connections and relationships with others, even though they desperately want to do so.
When faced with a situation that causes anxiety, people with SAD may also resort to safety behaviors such as avoiding eye contact, fidgeting, speaking in a monotone voice, or leaving the social situation prematurely. While safety behaviors can temporarily relieve anxiety, they can also reinforce the fear of social problems and make it more challenging to face future social situations.
How Long Does Panic Disorder Last?
When you experience a panic attack for panic disorder, it can feel like your body and mind are stuck in overdrive. Symptoms of a panic attack can include:
- A racing heart.
- Feeling dizzy or faint.
- Chest pains.
- Difficulty breathing.
- A sense of impending doom.
During an attack, it can be challenging to think clearly and remember what to do to stay calm. It’s important to remember that panic attacks are not dangerous and will eventually pass. Taking deep breaths and reminding yourself that this is a normal and temporary reaction can help. It can also help to focus on something in the present moment, such as counting to 10 in another language.
In addition, certain activities such as physical exercise, listening to music, or engaging in relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or mindfulness can help to reduce the intensity of a panic attack. It is also important to have a support system in place to provide comfort and emotional support.
How Long Do Phobias Last?
When you experience symptoms of a phobia, you may have developed a fear of a certain thing, animal, place, or situation resulting from an experience or a learned response. Physical sensations you may experience include difficulty breathing, chest pains, dizziness, and a feeling of terror.
If you are dealing with a specific phobia, it helps you first understand your triggers to prepare yourself. It can be helpful to identify strategies that can help you face the fear in a more manageable way.
For example, you can break the goal into smaller, less intimidating steps and use a “Gradual approach to confronting the fear. You can also explore exposure therapy and other forms of desensitization, gradually exposing yourself to the object or situation that triggers your fear to overcome it.
If these techniques are ineffective in managing your anxiety, seek professional help from a licensed mental health professional. A mental health provider can partner with you to assess the severity of the phobia, help you identify triggers, and develop strategies to manage your fear.
Ways To Find Relief During An Anxiety Attack
When people are experiencing an anxiety attack, their first instinct is often to try and make it go away as quickly as possible. While this is understandable, it’s crucial to remember that there are effective ways to relieve anxiety.
One of the best ways to relieve anxiety and improve your overall mental health is by using relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation. These techniques can help to slow down your breathing, reduce stress hormones, and ultimately calm the body and mind to manage anxiety.
Another way to find relief is by engaging in physical activity. Exercise has been shown to reduce stress levels by releasing endorphins into the body, which helps to regulate mood. Even just a few minutes of light physical activity can be enough to make a difference.
Finally, seeking treatment is the quickest and most effective way to alleviate anxiety. A mental health professional can work with you to identify the underlying cause of your anxiety and provide guidance on how best to manage it. With treatment, people can experience long-term relief from anxiety and learn how to cope healthily with their worries and fears.
Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms
People with chronic anxiety and other anxiety disorders may seek ways to treat their symptoms outside of professional medical advice. Many of these methods can be considered unhealthy coping mechanisms, and they are not recommended treatments.
Some people try to manage their anxiety disorders through substance abuse. Drugs can often immediately alleviate the symptoms of a mental health disorder like anxiety. Unfortunately, using or abusing drugs to self-medicate against anxiety is not a safe or reliable way to manage symptoms.
How To Find Long-Term Relief From Anxiety Symptoms
The fastest and best way to find long-term relief from anxiety is to seek professional help. A mental health worker can diagnose and treat different forms of anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy, in particular, is an effective treatment for all types of anxiety disorders.
For instance, cognitive behavioral therapy can help people learn to recognize and change their thought patterns, which leads to fear and anxiety. It can also teach relaxation techniques and positive self-talk, which can be used to manage and reduce symptoms.
In addition, lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, healthy eating habits, and getting enough sleep can also help reduce anxiety symptoms and improve overall mental health.
Seeking the help of a psychiatrist can be extremely helpful. Psychiatrists can prescribe anti-anxiety medication. Anti-anxiety medication for treating anxiety disorders may also be prescribed to help manage symptoms of anxiety. Medicines that treat anxiety include ketamine, antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and beta-blockers. While these medications can help relieve anxiety, it’s important to note that they do not cure the underlying cause of anxiety.
Finally, TMS, or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, is a non-invasive procedure that can help relieve symptoms. TMS uses magnetic pulses to stimulate areas of the brain involved in mood regulation, which can improve symptoms.
Ultimately, the best way to find long-term relief from anxiety and make a significant impact on your mental health is through therapy, lifestyle changes, and medication. With these measures, people can manage their symptoms and live a more balanced life.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, anxiety disorders are complicated and can have different effects on different people. However, understanding when anxiety occurs, being able to find relief during an anxiety attack, and ultimately seeking treatment to address the symptoms of your anxiety disorder are the best strategies for managing anxiety over time. With these tactics, people can find long-term relief from symptoms of their anxiety disorder and experience greater peace of mind.
No matter what form of anxiety you’re struggling with, it’s essential to remember that recovery is possible. With the proper treatment and support, anyone can find relief from their symptoms and live a healthier, happier life. Neuro Wellness Spa is here to help you on your journey. Contact us today to learn more about our services or book a session. We are here for you.