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February 2018

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Anxiety Attack Vs Heart Attack: How To Know The Difference

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Experiencing symptoms of a panic attack for the first time can be scary and confusing. Know the difference between an anxiety attack vs heart attack.

If you experience pain in your chest accompanied by shortness of breath, you may immediately become concerned that you are having a heart attack.

However, these are also common symptoms of a panic or anxiety attack. Knowing the difference can make the crucial difference between life and death.

Here are five important facts to consider in weighing the question: anxiety attack vs heart attack?

1. Anxiety Attack Vs Heart Attack: The Symptoms are Similar

It is true that in determining anxiety attack vs heart attack, the two conditions share many similar symptoms.

Both attacks may entail the following:

  • Pain in the chest area
  • Shortness of breath
  • palpitations
  • nausea or vomiting
  • sweating
  • fainting
  • upper body pain

To make things even more confusing (and anxiety-provoking), symptoms of heart failure can include anxiety!

If you believe that you or your loved one is actually experiencing heart failure, you should go directly to an emergency room.

A trained physician will often be able to tell right away whether it is a heart attack or not.

Those who have a history of heart disease or have suffered heart failure before should contact a doctor right away if they are experiencing these symptoms again.

2. Women Are At Special Risk

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America states that women’s symptoms of heart disease are often mistaken for anxiety. This places them at a higher risk of not getting the medical attention they require.

Many people seem to mistakenly associate heart disease with men and anxiety with women. However, these stereotypes are dangerous and misleading.

A female having a heart attack will also experience chest pain, plus she is more likely to also have shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting and other pains in areas like the back or jaw.

It’s important not to assume that one gender is more likely to experience an anxiety attack vs. heart attack. Men are just as vulnerable as women to the same stressors that cause panic attacks: trauma, divorce and relationship issues, grief and loss.

3. Unusual Symptoms to Watch Out For

Fainting is an important sign that the attack in question is a heart attack. Generally, anxiety attacks do not cause a loss of consciousness.

Usually, if someone having an attack and is able to calm down their breathing, their other bodily symptoms will also abate.

Unconsciousness, on the other hand, does not just go away. Call 911 immediately if someone suffering these symptoms also loses consciousness.

On the other hand, some symptoms are only associated with anxiety attacks. Numbness or tingling extremities are not usually associated with heart failure.

If someone is feeling pins and needles in their limbs, this may indicate they need to seek help for a panic-related disorder.

Other physical signs of a panic attack include tightness in the throat or feeling. like you are choking on something. Panic can also cause your knees to buckle or give way.

These signs usually happen with panic attacks but do not usually signal a heart issue.

4. Which Came First: the Anxiety or the Palpitations?

Doctors will seek the origin of the symptoms which determine anxiety attack vs heart attack.

Because anxiety can lead to heart problems, a physician will ask whether something worrisome happened to provoke the rapid heart rate?

Or was it the other way around?

An irregular heart rhythm or arrhythmia can actually make a person feel anxious. But a fast or irregular heart rate may not be caused by panic but by a physical anomaly.

People with these issues should undergo heart monitoring to determine the cause of their symptoms. Luckily, many modern smartphones have applications which will allow you to easily monitor your daily heartbeats for signs of irregularities They will also allow you to see what affects the rhythm.

If an irregular heartbeat does not seem to be affected by external triggers like a call from the boss or a fight with the wife, the cause may be physiological.

If it is a cardiac problem instead of a psychological one, there are medical procedures like ablations which can help.

5. Both Kinds of Attacks are Treatable

If you realize that you are suffering anxiety, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath and feelings of fear, do not give up hope. There are many suitable treatments for men and women who suffer from crippling anxiety.

Some people find relief through changing their dietary intake, such as by reducing caffeine and sugar. Symptoms may also be exacerbated by other medications being taken for other conditions, so cutting those out or replacing them may help.

Some therapists may prescribe various medications such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety pills, also known as benzodiazepines.

Talk therapy is frequently very successful in treating anxiety attacks.

Many people find numerous benefits from counseling. A psychologist can provide an open, honest and safe forum to discuss issues from the past or present which may be causing you distress.

He or she can also help you build coping skills and strategies which can prevent panic attacks before they happen, and show you how to deal with the many triggers which cause emotional upheaval.

Once you determine whether the cause of your attacks is cardiac or psychological, you are on well your way to finding the best type of help to prevent future episodes.

Panic Attack vs. Heart Attack: Know the Difference

It is critical to first diagnose what is causing your physical and emotional distress. Scan the outward symptoms of your own body (or the person who is suffering).

Check for any exterior triggers or indications of an emergency cardiac situation (such as fainting).

Once a heart attack has been ruled out, seek help from the professional field most suited to handle the condition in question.

If the heart palpitations and other issue seem to arise from an internal physical cause unrelated to emotional stress, find a cardiologist.

If, on the other hand, the symptoms arise from emotional triggers, you may need to seek help from a licensed counselor.

There is no need to suffer in silence: help is available. If you need more information on how to cope with panic attacks and stress, contact us.

Am I depressed

Depression vs Sadness: How to Tell the Difference

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While it may seem that everyone throws around “The D Word” from time to time, specific depressive disorders affect less than 10% of Americans.

However, the combination of anxiety, trauma, and illnesses that can contribute to depression make depression much more common.

If symptoms are mild, you may want to understand whether you’re simply feeling sad or experiencing depression.

While you might think of sadness as temporary and depression as persistent, it can be hard to differentiate the two in the moment.

Your experience could feel like it may pass, but you could be experiencing the early feelings of a mild depressive bout. Alternately, you could be in the throes of one of the worst dark clouds you’ve experienced which you might not realize is connected to an event in your life.

If you’re wondering whether you’re feeling sad or experiencing clinical symptoms of depression, you’re not alone. Ask yourself these 5 questions to shed a little light on your feelings.

1. If You’re Feeling Sad, Are Your Favorite Things Enjoyable?

Everyone has a handful of things that really make life worth living. Whether it’s traveling abroad, spending the day at your favorite bookshop, or just that chai latte you like, there are things that can take us out of any funk.

If you’re feeling sad, these are the things that can shake us out of our feelings or reassure us that we’ll move beyond the hurdle in front of us. Our brain might resist the good feelings, but in the end, positivity will prevail.

In the experience of depression, there’s an inability to enjoy the things that once were pleasurable.

This reaction is called an “anhedonic” reaction, as in the inverse of the hedonism we feel when on a beach with the perfect drink in hand. Depression inhibits those feelings of pleasure that could cut through the fog of our sad feelings.

When you can’t seem to enjoy the things that “should” make you happy, you could be feeling depressed.

2. Are Your Emotions Tied To One Specific Thing?

During moments of feeling sad, it’s hard to tell where that sadness comes from. You could wake up in the morning, stare at the clock knowing it’s time to get up, and just not be able to do it.

What makes this a symptom of sadness as opposed to depression is its connection to something specific.

If you’ve experienced a major change in your life, like a breakup, job loss, death of a loved one, or even a move to a new city, you could be experiencing sadness.

While this disconnection from something that you once identified closely with can feel traumatic, it may pass. In moments of sadness, we can usually say “I guess it started when…”

This is a tricky concept, however.

If we have deep trauma tied to loss that can trigger depression, that event might have just reopened that issue for you. Your depression may have started off in the way sadness does, but if it opens you up to a deeper negativity, that sadness may have paved the way for depression.

If you’ve had issues with depression in the past, you need to be especially aware when traumatic events happen or appear to be on the horizon. If you know that a loved one is going to pass soon and have dealt with depression due to loss, contact a trusted therapist in advance.

While depression can hit for “no reason at all”, the conditions of a sad event can make it easier for depression to take over your life.

3. Are You Sleeping And Eating Normally?

When you’re unhappy, it can be hard to follow your normal rules. Sometimes a little exercise and fresh air can help make things better and get you back on track.

If being more active doesn’t tire you out for a good night’s sleep and build up a little hunger, you might be experiencing depression. One of the major features of depression is insomnia and the inability to fix it with standard tactics.

For some people, food might seem “pointless” in the haze of sadness that comes with depression. You might feel like it’s not worthwhile to be healthy or in some cases to eat at all.

If you can’t seem to resolve your appetite or sleep schedule, contact a counselor who can help you find tactics to help combat your brain’s attempts to undermine you.

4. Does Your Mood Fluctuate?

When you’re feeling sad, it might seem like your mood fades in and out, like background music that takes over a movie scene. When there’s space for you to let go of your sadness and enjoy things, you’re likely not experiencing severe depression.

For people who experience even the most moderate symptoms of depression, it’s less like background music and more like a refrigerator hum.

Even in the quietest of times, it’s still there. And if you focus on it, it can be deeply upsetting or frustrating.

With the most severe forms of depression, any task can seem punishingly difficult. You can get upset talking to the person you’re ordering coffee from, irritated with the people on the train, and everyone at work can seem unbearable.

When the common denominator between unrelated people and events is your frustration, sadness, anxiety, or anger, talk to someone about dealing with depression.

5. Are You Self-Sabotaging?

While everyone has moments where they definitely screwed up or their performance at school or work stinks, they are often few and far between.

If these mistakes or missteps arise when you’re feeling sad, you can usually bet that you can avoid those mistakes the second time around.

During a bout of depression, your thoughts can become habitual or cyclical. You might feel like you failed, and you failed because you’re incapable, and you will never get any better. You might punish yourself with your negative thoughts.

If you blame yourself for things that are out of your control or you’re relentlessly critical of yourself, you may be experiencing depression. If you have a firm belief that it’s some critical flaw that you’re hardwired with that is keeping you from success, talk to someone about dealing with depression.

In all likelihood, your talent and skills have gotten you this far, but now depression has taken the wheel. Before it steers you into a ditch, set yourself up for success by contacting a counselor to help with depression.

There’s Nothing Abnormal About Feeling Sad or Experiencing Depression

There are millions of people who are feeling sad and millions more also experiencing depression. Thankfully there are many trained experts who know how to help us get back on track.

If you’ve thought about self-harm or violence, speak to a professional as soon as possible. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK) 24/7. The Crisis Text Line is a way to get help anonymously through text.

There is always someone there to listen to you no matter what you’re going through. Cut through the fog and seek help today.