What Happens to the Body and the Brain When You Have an Anxiety Attack?

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General speech goal: The goal of this speech is to educate the audience on how to respond in case of an anxiety attack and how to avoid anxiety related panic in the future.

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Specific purpose statement: I want the audience to identify the best practices and evidence based approaches that can help reduce possibilities of suffering from anxiety attacks.


An anxiety attack refers to the feeling of unease in a difficult and challenging situation such as a job interview or an examination. Anxiety is meant to help motivate the body to respond to a situation normally (Anderson et al. 2015). This presentation aims at expounding on the causes of the brain response to anxiety and the interaction between the brain and the body in the face of anxiety. This topic is credible and valuable today due to the increasing cases of anxiety that are being caused by economic and professional pressure. Anxiety can lead to negative implications for the health hence; this primary study aim is to understand the relationship between the brain and the body in response to anxiety.

Anxiety effects to the brain

The brain is the center for the coordination of all body activities; the brain receives sensory messages from the neurons and the sensory organs of the body after which it facilitates production of certain chemicals and hormones that spur other body organs to respond to the situation. Just like stress anxiety triggers the brain to release stress hormones such as cortisol. Cortisol hormone has some functionality in the body including an increase in the heart rate and circulation. In anxiety can occur as a feeling of happiness, anger or sadness that is invoked by external stimuli. Despite the fact that anxiety is caused by an external source such as an argument or a rebuke from the supervisor at work anxiety is more internal (De Kloet et al. 2005).

Brain response to anxiety

The brain is continuously and actively involved in regulating the body anxiety levels through the release of hormones. Different parts of the brains produce specific hormones that have specific effects on the body and response to external stimuli. Amygdala and the Hippocampus parts of the brain have long been known to play a significant role in response to anxiety. Amygdala is believed to be the communication center of the brain that helps process incoming sensory signals. The amygdala can alert the brain of the presence of a threat, and an anxiety response is produced. Furthermore, the amygdala stores memories that can trigger anxiety. For instance, a memory of a dog bite or a failed interview can cause anxiety when we encounter with a dog or get an interview invitation. Hippocampus, on the other hand, helps in encoding events that are perceived as threatening into memories (Mallorqui-Bague, Nuria, et al. 2016).

Implications of anxiety to the brain

Constant anxiety can cause the brain to be wired for anxiety. In this case, people who are used to feeling anxious it might make an individual prone to looking out for potential anxiety threats even when they dont exist. Intensified feeling of anxiety can result in social isolation, physical symptoms and mental health problems like depression. Neuro-pathways and their associations are the major determinants of anxiety perception in the body. Neuropathways and their associations determine the amount of cortisol or adrenaline produced in the body which is the major cause of an anxiety response (Gatt, J. M., et al. 2009).

Effects of anxiety on the body

Anxiety causes the brain to release cortisol and adrenaline hormones which trigger the body to respond to stress in either a fight or flight response. Anxiety, in addition, has some physical symptoms which can be mistaken to be a medical illness. Common physical symptoms caused by anxiety include an increased pounding of the heart and sweating. Hormone cortisol increases the heart beat of the heart to pump more blood which can help increase the supply of oxygen to support the fight and flight response of the body. On the other hand, adrenaline increases the contraction and constriction of the body muscles which result in muscle tension (Lasselin, Julie, et al. 2016).

Remedy against anxiety

Anxiety can be reduced and controlled by changing individual lifestyle and diet. Diets that contain caffeine such as coffee can increase the possibility of an anxiety attack. In addition, poor sleeping patterns can reduce the functionality of the brain. To reduce anxiety, it is important to get enough sleep, establish good social skills which reduce vulnerability to anxiety by reaching out to others as well as practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing and muscle relaxation (Anderson et al. 2015).

In conclusion, anxiety attacks are caused by the response of the body and brain towards external stimuli. Most of the reaction from anxiety is caused by brain processes mainly from the amygdala and hippocampus which are the centers for brain communication and coordination. The brain releases cortisol and adrenaline which affects the body by causing increased blood pressure, shortness of breath, sweating and shortness of breath. An anxiety attack can be managed through constant calming of the brain through, meditation, a deep breath and regular exercises which produce a calming effect on the body and brain.

Work Cited

Anderson, Elizabeth, and Geetha Shivakumar. "Effects of exercise and physical activity on anxiety." Progress in Physical activity and Exercise and Affective and Anxiety Disorders: Translational Studies, Perspectives and Future Directions (2015): 46.

De Kloet, E. Ron, Marian Joels, and Florian Holsboer. "Stress and the brain: from adaptation to disease." Nature Reviews Neuroscience 6.6 (2005): 463-475.

Gatt, J. M., et al. "Interactions between BDNF Val66Met polymorphism and early life stress predict brain and arousal pathways to syndromal depression and anxiety." Molecular psychiatry 14.7 (2009): 681-695.

Lasselin, Julie, et al. "Mood disturbance during experimental endotoxemia: Predictors of state anxiety as a psychological component of sickness behavior." Brain, behavior, and immunity (2016).

Mallorqui-Bague, Nuria, et al. "Mind-Body Interactions in Anxiety and Somatic Symptoms." Harvard review of psychiatry 24.1 (2016): 53-60.

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