27 Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety Series – Acute Anxiety

Written by on May 2, 2013 in Blog, Depression & Anxiety - No comments

I had just laid my head down to go to sleep when my cell phone rang. It was my friends roommate, telling me that my friend was suffering from a panic attack and she didn’t know what to do. I sat up, got dressed and drove over to their apartment building to find my friend frozen with fear, sitting in the front seat of her car. She couldn’t speak in full sentences, and each word she was able to force out of her quivering lips was difficult to understand. But through her shaky communication, I was able to piece together what had happened.

She was driving down the highway, and passed an oncoming car. The headlights from the car cast a shadow that looked like someone was standing in the road in front of her. It was so quick that she didn’t physically react to the shadow, but her mind did. For a split second – the tiniest moment – she thought she was going to hit someone with her car.

It’s important to note that she didn’t actually hit anyone. There was nobody to hit, thank goodness – only a shadow. But ¬†that didn’t matter. Her brain set in motion a series of events that paralized her with fear in a way she had never experienced before. Because she had never experienced acute anxiety, she couldn’t recognize what was happening to her, and was powerless to stop it. Such is the case with many who suffer from acute anxiety.

Acute anxiety is described as severe and, sometimes debilitating feelings of panic or fear. Though certain circumstances can trigger this anxiety, it can also happen out of nowhere, with little to no justification for it. Acute anxiety is recognized by its accompanying, brief panic attacks (an hour or two, perhaps even shorter), and usually hits when someone is in their early twenties. But it can happen to anyone, anytime.

For my friend, her acute anxiety was short-lived. But for many, it can become so common that it causes behavioral changes that last long after the episode is over. Sadness, anger, numbness, flashbacks and nightmares are common in those who suffer from acute anxiety – even when they are not having an attack.


As with many emotional disorders, what causes acute anxiety varies from person to person. It can be brought on by alcoholism, genetics, or even poor nutrition. Most acute anxiety attacks are set off by some kind of trigger, but in severe cases a person may experience them seemingly out of nowhere. It’s common for someone who has suffered a traumatic event to experience acute anxiety to some degree.


Doctors run various tests to determine the type of anxiety someone may be suffering from. Because the feelings brought on by acute anxiety often resemble asthma or heart issues, they usually try to rule physical conditions out first. The type and severity of anxiety can usually be determined by an evaluation of frequency, length of time, accompanying behavior changes, and impact on a person’s ability to function.


There are many treatments for acute anxiety, including psychotherapy and medication. It’s also common for doctors to instruct sufferers to avoid certain foods and include exercise as part of the daily routine. From what we’ve seen in our clinics, the most effective programs are those that teach people how to leverage the brain’s natural process to overcome this behavior. This is the driving force behind Candeo’s Online, Depression & Anxiety Treatment¬†.

For my friend, what really perpetuated her fear was not knowing what was happening to her. She started feeling anxious, was unable to recognize it, became worried about what it was, and it spiraled downhill, fast. What broke the cycle was talking with someone who understood what she was going through – someone who could help her recognize what she was feeling and could reassure her that it wasn’t a flaw or weakness that caused it. Many people experience acute anxiety every day. They want help, but are paralized by fear to the point they won’t ask for it. If you or someone you know suffers from acute anxiety, know that it doesn’t have to be a permanent part of your life. By practicing and using a few simple processes that we can teach you, you can learn to recognize when you’re starting to feel anxious, and how to stop its negative impact on you.

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