Living in a world that moves at a breakneck speed, anxiety has become almost commonplace. But what happens when these feelings amplify and morph into something more acute, like an anxiety attack? Anxiety is not just being a little stressed out.’ The duration of anxiety attacks ranges from minor to extreme, depending on the type of attack – they may last from a few seconds to several days. Continuous anxiety attacks, when not treated on time, can lead to long-term mental health problems.
Thrive Downtown strives to bring light into the lives of those grappling with the chain of anxiety attacks. We help individuals understand their mental health, foster growth, and cultivate a life of purpose and happiness.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of tension, worry and fear that, at times, leads to physical changes such as increased heart rate and difficulty in breathing. It is an integral part of our survival instinct, signalling our body’s natural response to threats and danger. However, for some individuals, this feeling of worry isn’t just an occasional response to life’s challenges. It becomes persistent and pervasive, casting a shadow over their daily life.
Learn more about the Causes of Anxiety!
Types of Anxiety
There are various types of anxiety, each forming a unique mental health condition. Below are listed some common types of anxiety.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
People with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) find themselves trapped in a cycle of persistent and excessive anxiety and worry about various domains of life, including work, health, family, or money. This feeling of constant worry is often disproportionate to the actual probability or impact of the feared event.
A panic attack is a sudden surge of overwhelming fear that triggers severe physical reactions, although there’s no real danger or apparent cause. It is a key symptom of Panic Disorder that can create a loop of debilitating anxiety.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Those with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) often feel overwhelmingly anxious and self-conscious in everyday social situations. They experience a profound fear of being watched, judged, embarrassed, or humiliated in social scenarios.
A persistent worry about having a serious illness, despite medical tests and reassurances from doctors, characterizes Health Anxiety. People with Health Anxiety misinterpret normal or minor bodily sensations as symptoms of severe illness. It’s not the illness but the thought of being ill that disrupts their life.
Substance-Induced Anxiety Disorder is a condition where anxiety symptoms are directly attributed to the physiological effects of a substance. This substance could be a drug of abuse, a medication, or toxin exposure. The anxiety symptoms may occur during the phase of intoxication or withdrawal from the substance.
A phobia is an intense fear that one experiences when encountering a specific thing or situation. It could be anything – a fear of spiders (arachnophobia), fear of flying (aviophobia), fear of water (hydrophobia) or fear of heights (acrophobia).
Those with Agoraphobia experience fear and often avoid places or situations that might cause them to panic, feel trapped, helpless, or embarrassed. People with agoraphobia often have a hard time feeling safe in any public place, especially where crowds gather.
A complex childhood anxiety disorder, Selective Mutism, is characterized by a child’s inability to speak and communicate effectively in select social settings, such as with classmates or with relatives they do not see very often.
Separation Anxiety Disorder
Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is often found in children after parting from a place or from their parents or people to whom they have a strong emotional attachment. It results in developing typical anxiety manifested by excessive concern and worry.
Signs of Anxiety Attack
Recognizing the signs of an anxiety attack is the first step toward managing it. These attacks, often an acute reaction to a stressor, present both physical and psychological symptoms. Some common signs of anxiety attacks are:
- Experiencing a nervous, restless and tense feeling.
- A sense of being in danger.
- Increased heart rate.
- Rapid breathing (over-breathing).
- Sweating and Trembling.
- Feeling weak and helpless.
- Trouble sleeping.
How Long Do Anxiety Attacks Last?
Anxiety attacks vary greatly depending on individuals and their anxiety type. Minor anxiety attacks can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes, while extreme anxiety attacks can last from a few hours to several days. It is common for most attacks to peak within 10 minutes and then gradually subside. However, as just mentioned, these attacks can occasionally wax and wane for an extended period, sometimes lasting for several days.
Factors that Influence the Duration of Anxiety
There are a variety of factors that can influence the duration of anxiety. It’s also worth noting that the time to overcome anxiety differs from one person to another. Below are listed the major ones.
Severity of the Anxiety Disorder
The severity of the underlying anxiety disorder plays a significant role in determining the length and intensity of an anxiety attack. The more severe the disorder, the more intense and potentially longer the attack can be.
Presence of Comorbidities
Co-existing mental health conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, or substance abuse can influence the duration of an anxiety attack. These conditions can complicate and exacerbate the symptoms, leading to prolonged attacks.
Personal Coping Mechanisms
How an individual responds to an anxiety attack can also determine its length. Those with effective coping strategies may be able to shorten the duration of an attack. However, for those without, an attack may last longer.
How Long Does it Take to Recover from an Anxiety Attack?
The recovery period varies from person to person; however, an anxiety attack typically lasts around 20 to 30 minutes, with the anxiety level peaking after about 10 minutes. The majority of symptoms subside after 30 minutes. It’s important to note that the recovery time highly depends on one’s mental condition and the intensity of the attack.
The Duration of Anxiety by Disorder Type
Understanding the duration of anxiety attacks can be clearer when we look at the timeframe within specific disorders. Below is listed the duration of anxiety and its disorder type.
|Anxiety by Disorder Type||Duration it Last|
|Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)||Upto 6 month|
|Panic Disorder||5-30 minute|
|Social Anxiety Disorder||Atlest 6 months|
|Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)||6 to 12 months|
|Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)||Atlest 6 months|
Disclaimer: The data presented in the table may vary depending on the individual’s specific situation and condition. These figures serve as general information and should not be considered as a definitive representation of every person’s experience with anxiety attacks. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional for accurate assessment and personalized guidance.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a chronic condition in which one experiences excessive worry that is difficult to control. It can last from several days up to six months. The anxiety and worry are often about various situations or activities. One can have GAD when they can’t cope well with their internal stress.
Panic disorder is abrupt surges of intense fear or discomfort, and a panic attack often reaches a peak within minutes. They can last anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes but can occasionally linger for up to an hour.
Social Anxiety Disorder
One with social anxiety disorder often has fear or anxiety about social situations in which they might be scrutinized by others. The anxiety tends to be most severe before the event, but uneasy feelings can linger throughout the interaction, causing prolonged discomfort.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
OCD is characterized by repetitive, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) or actions (compulsions). It’s often accompanied by intense feelings of anxiety, and the duration of these feelings can vary widely, depending on one’s ability to resist or manage their compulsions or obsessions.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD can develop following a traumatic event in which one experiences intrusive thoughts about the trauma, avoidance of reminders, negative changes in mood and thinking, and increased arousal or reactivity. Symptoms of anxiety in PTSD can persist for many months or even years if not treated.
What’s the Difference Between an Anxiety Attack and a Panic Attack?
While often used interchangeably, anxiety attacks and panic attacks are distinct experiences. Anxiety attacks often occur in response to a stressor, characterized by feelings of worry, fear, or apprehension. Panic attacks, on the other hand, occur unexpectedly, without an apparent cause, and are usually more intense. They often reach their peak level quickly and include symptoms like a racing heart, chest pain, or dizziness.
How to Manage Anxiety Symptoms?
Managing anxiety symptoms involves a combination of lifestyle modifications, therapy, and, sometimes, medication. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and mindfulness practices like meditation can greatly help manage anxiety symptoms. Cognitive-behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a highly effective form of treatment that helps individuals understand and change thought patterns that lead to harmful behaviours or feelings of anxiety. Thrive Downtown offers a variety of mental health therapies, including CBT therapy, that helps individuals manage and overcome their anxiety effectively.
What Are Some Techniques to Prevent and Manage Anxiety Attacks?
Mindfulness techniques, deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and grounding techniques can all help manage and prevent anxiety attacks. It’s also essential to maintain a supportive network of friends and family and consider seeking the help of mental health professionals if anxiety becomes overwhelming. Thrive Counselling Center can connect you with a mental health professional for a free consultation for your anxiety.
How Can Thrive Counselling Centre Help?
Thrive Downtown understands the intricacies of anxiety disorders and offers personalized therapeutic approaches to help manage your anxiety symptoms. Our mental health professionals are experienced enough to provide various forms of therapy, such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, to treat mental health conditions, including anxiety attacks. We offer a safe, non-judgmental space for you to explore your feelings and develop effective coping strategies. Contact us and begin your journey toward curing your anxiety disorder.
Understanding anxiety and its impact on our lives is the first step toward seeking help. While it can be a challenging journey, remember you’re not alone. With the right guidance and support, it’s entirely possible to regain control over your anxiety and lead a fulfilling life. Do not hesitate to consult with a mental health professional to discuss your anxiety, as it may lead you to long-term mental health conditions.
How Long Do Anxiety Attacks Last FAQs
What should I do if my anxiety attack lasts longer than usual or becomes severe?
If your anxiety attack lasts longer than usual or becomes severe, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention. Reach out to a mental health professional for further assessment and treatment planning.
Are there treatments available to manage or reduce the frequency of anxiety attacks?
Several treatments can manage or reduce the frequency of anxiety attacks, including psychotherapy, such as Cognitive-behavioral Therapy and Dialectical-behavioral Therapy.
Can anxiety attacks last for hours or even days?
While it’s uncommon, anxiety attacks can last for hours or even days. Often, this may be a sign of a more serious anxiety disorder or other mental health issue. If you’re experiencing prolonged anxiety attacks, it’s important to consult with a mental health professional.
Can anxiety attacks occur multiple times within a day?
It’s possible for anxiety attacks to occur multiple times within a day. This might be particularly true for individuals with certain types of anxiety disorders, like panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder.
Carson Kivari is the Founder and Clinic Director of Thrive Downtown, with years of experience helping individuals and couples overcome anxiety, depression, and burnout. He guides clients on a journey of self-exploration and trauma release to find purpose, connection, and safety. Take the first step towards healing and contact Carson today to schedule a session.