How Long Do Anxiety Attacks Last?

how long do anxiety attacks lastAnxiety attacks, also known as panic attacks, can be incredibly distressing and overwhelming experiences. If you’re someone who has ever experienced an anxiety attack, you’re likely familiar with the intense feelings of fear, worry, and physical discomfort that can accompany these episodes. One commonly asked question is: how long do anxiety attacks last? In this article, we will explore the duration of anxiety attacks, factors that can influence their length, and strategies for coping with and managing these episodes.

Understanding Anxiety Attacks

Anxiety attacks are sudden and intense episodes of heightened anxiety that can occur in response to various triggers or seemingly out of nowhere. These attacks are characterized by a rapid onset of intense fear or discomfort, often accompanied by physical symptoms such as rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, and trembling. Understanding anxiety attacks is crucial in comprehending their duration and finding effective ways to manage them.

Anxiety attacks can be overwhelming and debilitating, making it difficult for individuals to carry out their daily activities. They can occur in anyone, regardless of age, gender, or background. It is estimated that approximately 40 million adults in the United States experience anxiety disorders, with anxiety attacks being a common manifestation.

What triggers an anxiety attack can vary greatly from person to person. Some individuals may experience attacks in response to specific situations or phobias, such as public speaking or flying. Others may have more generalized anxiety attacks that seem to occur without any identifiable trigger. It is important to note that while anxiety attacks can be distressing, they are not life-threatening.

What is an Anxiety Attack?

An anxiety attack is a sudden and intense episode of heightened anxiety. It involves an overwhelming feeling of fear or discomfort, often accompanied by physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, chest tightness, dizziness, and sweating. During an anxiety attack, individuals often experience a sense of impending doom or loss of control.

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It is essential to differentiate anxiety attacks from panic attacks, as they are not the same. While both can cause similar symptoms, panic attacks are typically more intense and can come on suddenly, peaking within minutes. Anxiety attacks, on the other hand, may build up over time and last longer.

Understanding the difference between anxiety attacks and panic attacks can help individuals seek appropriate treatment and management strategies. It is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan.

Common Symptoms of Anxiety Attacks

Anxiety attacks can manifest in a variety of ways. Common symptoms include heart palpitations, trembling or shaking, sweating, shortness of breath, a feeling of choking, chest pain or discomfort, nausea or abdominal distress, dizziness or lightheadedness, derealization or depersonalization, fear of losing control or going crazy, and fear of dying. It’s important to note that symptoms can vary from person to person.

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During an anxiety attack, individuals may also experience cognitive symptoms such as racing thoughts, difficulty concentrating, and a sense of impending danger. These symptoms can further contribute to the distress and discomfort experienced during an attack.

While anxiety attacks can be frightening, it is important to remember that they are a natural response to perceived threats or stressors. The body’s fight-or-flight response is activated, releasing stress hormones and preparing the individual to either confront or escape the perceived danger. However, in the case of anxiety attacks, this response can be triggered in situations that are not actually life-threatening, leading to an overwhelming sense of fear and anxiety.

Managing anxiety attacks often involves a combination of therapeutic techniques, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation exercises, and medication. It is crucial for individuals experiencing anxiety attacks to seek professional help and develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses their specific needs and triggers.

Factors Influencing the Duration of Anxiety Attacks

The duration of anxiety attacks can vary widely from person to person and even from one episode to another. Several factors can influence the length of an anxiety attack:

Individual Differences

Each individual is unique, and their response to anxiety attacks can differ. Some people may experience shorter and more manageable episodes, while others may endure longer and more debilitating attacks. Factors such as overall health, coping mechanisms, and past experiences can all play a role.

For example, individuals who have a strong support system and effective coping strategies may be able to shorten the duration of their anxiety attacks. On the other hand, those who have a history of trauma or have not developed healthy coping mechanisms may experience longer and more intense episodes.

Furthermore, certain physiological factors can also contribute to the length of anxiety attacks. For instance, individuals with certain medical conditions, such as cardiovascular issues or hormonal imbalances, may experience prolonged anxiety attacks due to the interplay between their physical and psychological well-being.

Severity of the Anxiety Disorder

The severity of the underlying anxiety disorder can also impact the duration of anxiety attacks. If someone has a more severe form of anxiety disorder, they may experience longer and more intense episodes.

Individuals with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), for example, may experience chronic and persistent anxiety that can lead to longer-lasting attacks. On the other hand, individuals with specific phobias may have shorter and more focused anxiety episodes triggered by specific situations or objects.

In addition, the presence of panic disorder, which is characterized by recurrent and unexpected panic attacks, can significantly influence the duration of anxiety attacks. Panic attacks typically reach their peak intensity within minutes and then subside, but the overall duration can vary depending on the individual’s specific symptoms and triggers.

Presence of Co-occurring Mental Health Conditions

Anxiety disorders often co-occur with other mental health conditions. If someone has multiple mental health disorders, their anxiety attacks may last longer due to the complexity of their symptoms and underlying psychological factors.

For instance, individuals with comorbid depression may experience prolonged anxiety attacks as the two conditions often exacerbate each other’s symptoms. Similarly, individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may have longer-lasting anxiety attacks triggered by traumatic memories or reminders of the traumatic event.

Furthermore, substance abuse can also contribute to the duration of anxiety attacks. Certain substances, such as stimulants or alcohol, can intensify anxiety symptoms and prolong the duration of an attack.

It is important to address and manage all co-occurring conditions to effectively reduce the duration of anxiety attacks. Integrated treatment approaches that target both the anxiety disorder and any co-occurring mental health conditions can lead to better outcomes and shorter episodes of anxiety.

Typical Duration of an Anxiety Attack

Anxiety attacks, also known as panic attacks, can be a distressing experience for those who suffer from them. Understanding the duration of an anxiety attack can help individuals better manage and cope with their symptoms. While the duration may vary from person to person, there are generally three phases that individuals go through during an anxiety attack.

Initial Onset

Anxiety attacks often have a rapid onset, with symptoms peaking within minutes of their start. The initial intense phase of an anxiety attack can last anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour. During this time, individuals may experience overwhelming fear and physical symptoms such as a racing heart, shortness of breath, trembling, and sweating. These symptoms can be incredibly distressing and may make individuals feel as though they are losing control.

It’s important to note that anxiety attacks can be triggered by various factors, including stressful situations, phobias, or even without any apparent cause. Understanding the triggers can help individuals identify and manage their anxiety more effectively.

Peak Symptoms

After the initial onset, anxiety attack symptoms typically reach their peak within 10 to 20 minutes. During this phase, individuals may experience a high level of discomfort and distress. They may feel as though they are in immediate danger or that something terrible is about to happen. It’s essential to remind yourself that anxiety attacks, though distressing, are not life-threatening and will eventually subside.

During the peak symptoms phase, individuals may also experience cognitive symptoms such as racing thoughts, difficulty concentrating, and a sense of impending doom. These cognitive symptoms can further exacerbate the distress and make individuals feel trapped in a cycle of fear and worry.

Winding Down

Following the peak symptoms, anxiety attacks gradually wind down. The duration of this phase can vary, lasting anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or longer. As the episode subsides, individuals may experience a sense of relief and begin to regain control over their thoughts and emotions.

It’s important to note that the recovery process after an anxiety attack can be different for everyone. Some individuals may bounce back quickly, while others may need more time to fully recover. Engaging in self-care activities such as deep breathing exercises, practicing mindfulness, or seeking support from loved ones can help individuals navigate through this phase more effectively.

While anxiety attacks can be overwhelming, it’s crucial to remember that help is available. Seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor can provide individuals with the tools and strategies they need to manage their anxiety and prevent future attacks. Remember, you are not alone, and there is support out there to help you through this challenging experience.

How to Measure the Duration of an Anxiety Attack

Anxiety attacks can be overwhelming and distressing, and it can be helpful to have a better understanding of their duration. By measuring the duration of anxiety attacks, you can gain personal insights, identify patterns, and track changes over time. This information can be valuable for self-reflection and to share with healthcare professionals if needed.

Self-Monitoring Techniques

One effective method to measure the duration of anxiety attacks is through self-monitoring. This involves keeping track of the start and end times of your anxiety attacks using a journal or a mobile app. By recording this information, you can create a comprehensive log of your experiences. You can use the CareClinic app for this!

When self-monitoring, it is essential to note not only the duration of the anxiety attack but also any accompanying symptoms or triggers. This can provide a more holistic understanding of your anxiety attacks and help identify potential patterns or triggers that contribute to their occurrence.

Additionally, self-monitoring can also help you track any changes in the duration of your anxiety attacks over time. By regularly recording this information, you may notice trends or fluctuations, which can be helpful in managing and seeking appropriate treatment for your anxiety.

Professional Assessment

If you find it challenging to accurately measure the duration of your anxiety attacks or if you require further guidance, it may be beneficial to seek professional help. Mental health professionals, such as therapists or psychiatrists, have the expertise to assess and provide guidance in managing anxiety disorders.

During a professional assessment, mental health professionals may use various tools and techniques to gather information about your anxiety attacks. This can include questionnaires, interviews, or other diagnostic assessments. By conducting a comprehensive evaluation, they can gain a deeper understanding of your symptoms, their duration, and any underlying factors that may contribute to your anxiety attacks.

Moreover, seeking professional help can provide you with a safe and supportive environment to discuss your concerns and explore effective coping strategies. Mental health professionals can offer personalized guidance and treatment options tailored to your specific needs, helping you manage and reduce the frequency and duration of your anxiety attacks.

Remember, measuring the duration of anxiety attacks is just one aspect of managing anxiety. It is crucial to seek professional help if your anxiety attacks are significantly impacting your daily life or if you require additional support in managing your anxiety.

Coping Strategies for Anxiety Attacks

Anxiety attacks can be overwhelming and distressing, but there are various coping strategies that can help you manage and reduce their impact on your daily life. In addition to the breathing techniques and grounding exercises mentioned above, there are several other effective strategies you can try.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique that involves tensing and then releasing different muscle groups in your body. This exercise helps you become more aware of physical sensations and promotes a state of relaxation. Start by tensing the muscles in your toes and then gradually work your way up to your head, focusing on each muscle group for a few seconds before releasing the tension.

By systematically tensing and releasing your muscles, you can learn to recognize the difference between tension and relaxation. This technique can be particularly helpful during anxiety attacks, as it allows you to redirect your focus away from anxious thoughts and onto the physical sensations in your body.


Journaling is a powerful tool for self-reflection and emotional processing. During an anxiety attack, it can be challenging to make sense of the overwhelming thoughts and emotions you’re experiencing. Writing down your thoughts and feelings in a journal can provide a sense of clarity and perspective.

When journaling, try to explore the underlying causes of your anxiety attacks. Are there specific triggers or patterns that you notice? By identifying these patterns, you can develop a better understanding of your anxiety and work towards finding effective coping strategies.

Exercise and Physical Activity

Engaging in regular exercise and physical activity can have a significant impact on your mental well-being. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood-boosting chemicals in the brain. It also helps reduce muscle tension and promotes better sleep, both of which can be beneficial in managing anxiety attacks.

Find an exercise or physical activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your routine. Whether it’s going for a brisk walk, practicing yoga, or participating in a team sport, incorporating regular physical activity into your life can provide a healthy outlet for stress and anxiety.

Social Support

Building a support network of friends, family, or support groups can be invaluable when dealing with anxiety attacks. Talking to someone you trust about your experiences can help alleviate feelings of isolation and provide a sense of comfort and understanding.

Consider reaching out to a close friend or family member and sharing your struggles with them. Alternatively, you may find it helpful to join a support group where you can connect with others who are going through similar experiences. Sharing your thoughts and feelings with others who can relate can provide a sense of validation and support.


Practicing self-care is essential for managing anxiety attacks and maintaining overall well-being. Self-care activities can vary from person to person, but they generally involve engaging in activities that promote relaxation, joy, and self-nurturing.

Some examples of self-care activities include taking a warm bath, reading a book, listening to soothing music, practicing mindfulness or meditation, or engaging in a hobby you enjoy. By prioritizing self-care, you are giving yourself permission to take a break from the stressors of daily life and focus on your own well-being.

Remember, coping with anxiety attacks is a journey that may require a combination of different strategies. It’s important to find what works best for you and to be patient with yourself as you navigate through the process of managing anxiety.

Seeking Professional Help

If anxiety attacks are significantly impacting your daily life or becoming increasingly frequent, it’s essential to seek professional help. Therapists can provide evidence-based interventions, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), to help you develop effective coping strategies and address the root causes of your anxiety attacks.

A therapist can work with you to identify triggers, explore underlying issues, and develop personalized coping mechanisms. They can also provide a safe and supportive environment for you to process your emotions and learn new skills for managing anxiety.

Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, and you don’t have to face anxiety attacks alone. With the right support and strategies, you can learn to manage and reduce the impact of anxiety attacks on your life.

Long-Term Management of Anxiety Attacks

Therapy Options

Talk therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can be highly effective in managing anxiety attacks. CBT helps individuals identify and challenge their negative thought patterns, develop coping skills, and gradually expose themselves to anxiety triggers in a controlled manner.

During CBT sessions, individuals work closely with a trained therapist who guides them through various exercises and techniques. These may include identifying and reframing negative thoughts, practicing relaxation techniques, and developing strategies to manage anxiety symptoms. The therapist also helps individuals create a personalized plan to address their specific triggers and challenges.

CBT is a collaborative and goal-oriented therapy that empowers individuals to take an active role in managing their anxiety attacks. By learning new skills and strategies, individuals can gain a sense of control over their symptoms and improve their overall well-being.


In some cases, medications may be prescribed to manage anxiety attacks. These medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or benzodiazepines, can help reduce the frequency and intensity of anxiety episodes.

SSRIs work by increasing the levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in regulating mood, in the brain. This can help stabilize emotions and alleviate anxiety symptoms. Benzodiazepines, on the other hand, act as sedatives and muscle relaxants, providing immediate relief from acute anxiety episodes.

It is crucial to work closely with a healthcare professional to determine the most suitable medication and dosage for your specific needs. They will consider factors such as the severity of your anxiety attacks, your medical history, and any potential side effects or interactions with other medications.

Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes play an integral role in managing anxiety attacks. Incorporating regular exercise into your routine can have significant benefits for both your physical and mental health. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood boosters, and can help reduce anxiety symptoms.

Maintaining a healthy diet is also important. Certain foods, such as those rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and B vitamins, have been linked to improved mental well-being. Avoiding excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption is also advisable, as these substances can exacerbate anxiety symptoms.

Getting enough sleep is crucial for overall well-being and managing anxiety attacks. Lack of sleep can increase feelings of stress and anxiety, making it more challenging to cope with triggers. Establishing a regular sleep routine and practicing good sleep hygiene can help improve the quality and quantity of your sleep.

Practicing stress-reducing activities such as mindfulness or yoga can also be beneficial. These techniques promote relaxation and help individuals develop a greater sense of self-awareness. By focusing on the present moment and cultivating a non-judgmental attitude, individuals can reduce anxiety and enhance their overall resilience.

In conclusion, a comprehensive approach to managing anxiety attacks involves therapy options, medication when necessary, and lifestyle changes. By utilizing these strategies, individuals can gain control over their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life.

Living with Anxiety Attacks

In conclusion, anxiety attacks can vary in duration from person to person and episode to episode. While they can be distressing and disruptive, understanding the duration of anxiety attacks and implementing coping strategies can help individuals manage these episodes effectively. Remember, seeking professional help and adopting healthy lifestyle changes can significantly improve long-term management. With the right tools and support, individuals can learn to live fulfilling lives even while coping with anxiety attacks.

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Dr. Suleiman Furmli