The symptoms of an anxiety attack can be confused with those of a heart attack: a feeling of suffocation, tightness in the chest, dizziness, palpitations…

Do you have palpitations, feel like you’re suffocating, notice tightness in your chest and are you getting dizzy? Those signs could well be those of a heart attack, but they are also the symptoms of an anxiety attack .

Those who have already suffered an episode of these characteristics learn to identify the symptoms, but it is normal that the first time they thought that they were facing something much more serious.

Anxiety crises can appear at any time, they start suddenly, are violent, intense, reach their maximum peak in the first 10 minutes and usually subside after half an hour at the most. According to the international classification of mental disorders DSM-IV , these episodes are characterized by the temporary and isolated appearance of intense fear or discomfort, accompanied by at least four of the following symptoms:

  • Palpitations, jerks of the heart, or increased heart rate.
  • sweating
  • Tremors or shakes.
  • Feeling of suffocation or shortness of breath.
  • Sensation of choking.
  • Chest tightness or discomfort.
  • Nausea or abdominal discomfort.
  • Unsteadiness, dizziness, or fainting.
  • Derealization or depersonalization.
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy.
  • Affraid to die.
  • Paresthesia.
  • Chills or hot flashes.

In that case, it must be determined that the symptoms have not been caused by a side effect of a medication, drugs or diseases such as cardiopulmonary disorders or hyperthyroidism.

It should also be taken into account if, after the anxiety crisis, one or two of these events have occurred:

  • Continual worry, restlessness, or fear that you may have another panic attack.
  • Behavior change, such as avoiding exercise or dealing with unfamiliar situations.


A broader classification of the symptoms of an anxiety crisis is the one that differentiates the signs depending on the faculty that is affected.

1. Symptoms of an anxiety crisis at a cognitive level : Fear, worry, insecurity, fear, difficulty making decisions, negative thoughts about oneself, fear of losing control and difficulty thinking or concentrating.

2. Symptoms of an anxiety crisis on a physical level : sweating, chills, palpitations, tachycardia, shortness of breath, muscle tension, tremors, upset stomach, headache, dizziness, nausea and dry mouth.

3. Symptoms of an anxiety crisis at the motor level : Smoking, drinking or eating excessively, crying, motor tics, the need to go from one place to another, stuttering or being paralyzed.

Depending on each person, the symptoms can be one or the other. In addition, the level of intensity can also vary. How you react depends on biological, cultural, and psychological factors. It has also been shown that, in general, women experience more episodes of anxiety attacks than men.

Statistics show that twice as many women as men are affected by anxiety disorders. There is only a higher male prevalence when it comes to obsessive-compulsive disorder and social phobia.


After suffering an anxiety crisis, you have to go to the doctor so that he can identify the reasons that have caused that episode. In some cases it is necessary to follow a treatment, even therapy. However, many times it is enough to exercise to eliminate stress and acquire healthy lifestyle habits.

If for any reason you suffer an anxiety crisis, the most important thing is that you remain calm so that you can control your breathing. Breathing in and expelling it rhythmically will help you gradually recover your heart rate. It can also be good for you to learn some relaxation technique, think of a beautiful place and count backwards from 100, by threes.