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Is This an Anxiety Attack?

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From a teen in the U.S.: Whenever I see or think about something that makes me stressed, my heart starts racing and I often start hyperventilating. Just this morning, I went to a restaurant and as usual got super stressed that there were no vegan options. Then, the breaking point, I looked up and saw a deer head on the wall and that moment, felt so stressed and sad. I immediately began hyperventilating and my eyes filled with tears. Also, when I’m stressed, I tend to get prickly sensations running through my body. Most of my really bad ones were worse than that and usually at school and such, or after being yelled at, or after Avengers Infinity War when I realized that Loki, my favorite character was gone for good. I wouldn’t talk to anyone for the rest of the night after that because I would break into tears and stress thinking about how he died. But, I’m still not sure if these symptoms qualify as anxiety/panic attacks.

Is This an Anxiety Attack?

Answered by on -


It seems that you are an especially sensitive person. As you have probably already discovered, there are good things about that. My guess is that you are sensitive to other people’s moods and that you are deeply moved by stories and art and music. The down side of sensitivity is vulnerability to stress.

I can’t determine whether you are having anxiety attacks. But, to me, it doesn’t matter how we label your distress. A label won’t help you cope. You need and deserve to have some help developing ways to manage your deep feelings.

When distressed, for example, you could stop and take deep slow breaths. Many people like you find it helpful to “ground” themselves when they start to feel anxious. Grounding involves distracting yourself by, say, noticing everything that is orange in the room or focusing on a picture you love that you keep on your phone. Do some research on the internet to learn other techniques.

If you can’t figure it out on your own, do consider seeing a therapist for some sessions to focus on learning how to best cope with your big feelings.

I wish you well,
Dr. Marie

Is This an Anxiety Attack?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Is This an Anxiety Attack?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 14 Aug 2018 (Originally: 16 Aug 2018)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 14 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.