You’ve perhaps heard someone describe that feeling of an impending doom right before experiencing a full blown anxiety or panic attack. Or you might have experienced it yourself. That feeling of dread, which can wash over you for what feels like no apparent reason.
There’s a big difference between knowing that something really bad is going to happen and thinking or feeling like something really bad is going to happen. The fear of impending doom of which we are referring to here, is one of thinking or feeling that something bad is going to happen.
We sometimes refer to this particular thinking as one of a fear of an impending doom.
There are a multitude of symptoms and sensations associated with fear and anxiety, and they can be especially powerful and sometimes overwhelming when they occur out of the blue. It is quite often reported that these feelings of an impending doom, do just that… come out of the blue.
These “out of the blue” thoughts and feelings can then often trigger more symptoms of anxiety such as:
- Hot flashes
- Tremors and shaking
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
The fear of an impending doom is considered a symptom of anxiety itself and is sometimes described as one or many of the following:
- Feeling like something awful is about to happen
- A sense of danger
- An overwhelming feeling you are about to die
- A strong feeling that something terrible is about to happen out of your control
- A desire to escape immediately before something terrible will happen
These thoughts and feelings of impending doom can occur suddenly at anytime and anywhere.
So why do we have this fear of impending doom?
Feeling anxious, worried or fearful causes us to feel stress. When we are stressed, our body produces stress hormones and releases them into the bloodstream. These stress hormones have a specific task as they travel to parts of the body. Their job is to bring about specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes that will enhance the body’s ability to deal with danger—we call this “the fight or flight” response.
The science of these stress hormones plays an important part in what is known as the human body’s survival mechanism. When certain parts of the brain (including the amygdala) are stimulated by these stress hormones, those parts of the brain become hyper vigilant, scanning for danger and sending signals to the body, that danger is present.
Living with high anxiety and constant stress can trigger these feelings and thoughts regularly. The fear of an impending doom is very common and the feeling itself whilst suffering with anxiety is not usually considered dangerous.
So what can we do about this fear of an impending doom?
As with much of anxiety, the keys to dealing with it are the same, to talk about it, seek professional help, and take some form of action. The following are some tips that you can put in place right now to help with your anxiety:
- Learn to Relax (yoga, meditation, walking)
- Breathing Exercises
- Guided Relaxation Exercises
- Physical Exercise
- Get Regular Good Quality Sleep
- Avoid Alcohol & Drugs
- Reduce your Caffeine intake
- Confront your worries
- Consider Medication
The sense of impending doom can last as long as the body is experiencing high levels of stress, creating the stress response and releasing those stress hormones. It’s impossible to simply stop experiencing stress, that would be unrealistic, but you can certainly look to manage certain aspects of your life that are causing additional stress that can be avoided.