What is Acute Anxiety?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
People suffering with acute anxiety may experience sweating problems.
People suffering with acute anxiety may experience sweating problems.

Acute anxiety is a type of anxiety disorder where patients develop episodes of sudden very intense fear and distress. It is also known as panic disorder and these episodes may be referred to as panic attacks. A patient's acute anxiety can be disabling if attacks occur frequently. There are treatments available to address the panic attacks and the underlying causes.

A person experiencing a panic attack may feel as though he is having a heart attack.
A person experiencing a panic attack may feel as though he is having a heart attack.

Women are more likely to develop this condition than men. In some cases, acute anxiety is linked with traumatic events, while in other instances, there is no clear cause. The severity of the condition often worsens over time without treatment because people with anxiety disorders can develop anxiety about their anxiety, setting off a spiral of panic attacks and other symptoms as the patient becomes concerned about having episodes.

Patients with anxiety disorder can also suffer from depression.
Patients with anxiety disorder can also suffer from depression.

The nature of a panic attack can vary from patient to patient. People develop a sensation of very intense fear and may experience physical symptoms like a racing heart, cold sweat, dizziness, nausea, and trembling. The patient may also feel depressed, unhappy, or worried, and the feelings associated with the panic attack can be overwhelming. Attacks can last for several minutes or many hours, and the patient may be withdrawn and distressed after an attack ends.

Prolonged anxiety may cause high blood pressure.
Prolonged anxiety may cause high blood pressure.

Patients with anxiety disorder can also have other mental health conditions such as agoraphobia or depression. The physical stress associated with anxiety and the flood of hormones and neurotransmitters that fills the body during attacks can also cause medical problems. Patients may develop high blood pressure and cardiovascular conditions as a result of the strain on the body caused by panic attacks. It can also be difficult for patients to complete daily tasks, as they may have multiple panic attacks during a day or be too worried about having attacks to focus.

Even acute anxiety can cause insomnia.
Even acute anxiety can cause insomnia.

Treatment for acute anxiety can include psychotherapy to explore possible causes of the condition and help patients work through those causes. Psychotherapy can also provide patients with coping tips and tricks, and some patients find it helpful to join a support group to network with patients who have similar conditions. Medications can also be beneficial, especially when patients are first starting treatment. These medications can reduce the intensity and frequency of panic attacks.

A patient's acute anxiety can be disabling if attacks occur frequently.
A patient's acute anxiety can be disabling if attacks occur frequently.

People with acute anxiety can also work with friends and family to identify and avoid triggers for anxiety attacks. Making people aware of the condition and asking them to help the patient set and maintain boundaries can be an integral part of managing this anxiety disorder.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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    • People suffering with acute anxiety may experience sweating problems.
      People suffering with acute anxiety may experience sweating problems.
    • A person experiencing a panic attack may feel as though he is having a heart attack.
      A person experiencing a panic attack may feel as though he is having a heart attack.
    • Patients with anxiety disorder can also suffer from depression.
      Patients with anxiety disorder can also suffer from depression.
    • Prolonged anxiety may cause high blood pressure.
      Prolonged anxiety may cause high blood pressure.
    • Even acute anxiety can cause insomnia.
      Even acute anxiety can cause insomnia.
    • A patient's acute anxiety can be disabling if attacks occur frequently.
      A patient's acute anxiety can be disabling if attacks occur frequently.
    • Acute anxiety might cause disorientation and confusion.
      Acute anxiety might cause disorientation and confusion.
    • A person might experience acute anxiety regarding an upcoming dental procedure.
      A person might experience acute anxiety regarding an upcoming dental procedure.
    • A patient with anxiety disorder may also suffer from other mental health conditions.
      A patient with anxiety disorder may also suffer from other mental health conditions.