Anxiety may last anywhere from a brief moment to months or years. In contrast, anxiety attacks typically reach peak intensity within minutes and subside with management techniques or when the perceived threat passes.

The duration of anxiety may depend on the underlying cause. People may wish to speak with a doctor for guidance on managing symptoms effectively, especially if anxiety significantly affects daily life.

Treatment may involve a combination of therapy and medication, with the goal of managing symptoms and shortening any attacks.

This article explains how long anxiety and anxiety attacks may last, when to talk with a doctor, anxiety treatment options, and more.

Does anxiety go away on its own?

A person with anxiety covering their face in bed.-2Share on Pinterest
Maria Korneeva/Getty Images

Whether anxiety goes away on its own largely depends on the person and the underlying cause of their anxiety.

Worry is a natural emotion that can act as a protective mechanism, alerting us to potential threats or challenges.

Many people may experience temporary worry or anxiety over everyday issues such as health, finances, and family matters. Usually, these concerns go away over time without much or any intervention.

However, when worry becomes excessive and persistent without treatment, it may signify another issue, such as an anxiety disorder. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), anxiety disorders affected over 300 million people in 2019 alone.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends talking with a healthcare professional if worry persists and interferes with daily activities for 6 months or longer.

Seeking treatment, such as therapy or medication, may help reduce the duration and severity of anxiety symptoms.

How long do anxiety attacks last?

The definition of an anxiety attack is fairly subjective since “anxiety attack” is not an official medical term in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, text revision (DSM-5-TR).

So, “anxiety attack” is more of a colloquial term that people sometimes use to describe the onset of anxiety symptoms or, in some cases, panic attacks. Anxiety is a feature of several mental health conditions, including panic disorder.

A panic attack may occur without warning as frequently as several times daily. However, they do not tend to last long and usually peak within a few minutes.

Anxiety symptoms due to a condition such as generalized anxiety disorder may develop more slowly and can last for months or years.

Learn more about anxiety attacks vs. panic attacks.

Managing a panic attack

There are long-term treatment options for anxiety, but when someone experiences an anxiety or panic attack, they may find quicker relief with the 3-3-3 rule.

The 3-3-3 rule is a grounding technique to manage anxiety in the moment. It involves the person:

  • naming three things they see
  • identifying three sounds they hear
  • moving three parts of their body

The goal of the 3-3-3 rule is to help ground the person in the present moment while taking away focus on anxious thoughts and sensations.

Learn 13 more methods to stop a panic attack.

Anxiety treatment

Anxiety treatment typically involves psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both.

Psychotherapy may include:

Healthcare professionals may prescribe medications for different anxiety-related benefits.

For example, antidepressants are common for long-term anxiety management, whereas anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines provide rapid relief in attack-like onsets of anxiety.

Some doctors may recommend beta-blockers to help manage physical anxiety symptoms, such as trembling and rapid heart rate.

A healthcare professional may also suggest stress management techniques, support groups, and physical exercise to help a person better manage their anxiety.

Learn more about different types of anxiety medications.

Someone recovering from anxiety and panic attacks may notice:

  • fewer and less intense attacks
  • improved sleep quality and duration
  • improved coping skills for managing stressors and anxiety triggers
  • more interest in social engagement and maintaining relationships
  • a gradual return to activities they once avoided
  • a greater sense of control over their thoughts and emotions
  • an improved overall mood and outlook on life

Additionally, the person may experience fewer physical symptoms of anxiety and panic disorder, such as:

When to speak with a doctor

Anxiety can interfere with a person’s daily life and well-being. Some indicators that it may be time to talk with a doctor about anxiety include:

  • persistent and excessive worry or fear that disrupts daily activities
  • physical symptoms, such as heart palpitations, sweating, or shortness of breath
  • difficulty managing feelings of worry
  • trouble concentrating or sleeping due to anxiety
  • avoidance of situations or activities due to fear or worry
  • negative impact on relationships, work, or school performance
  • self-medicating with drugs or alcohol to cope with anxiety

Once they provide an accurate diagnosis, a doctor can offer treatment options and help the affected person develop coping strategies to effectively manage their anxiety.


Anxiety duration varies from brief moments to extended periods. In contrast, panic attacks tend to peak quickly and dissipate with management techniques or when the perceived threat disappears.

Anxiety due to an underlying anxiety disorder may develop slowly and last for months or years.

Seeking guidance from a doctor is crucial if anxiety significantly affects daily life. Treatment may involve therapy and medication to manage symptoms and shorten attacks.