For someone who has never had anxiety or panic attacks, it is really hard to understand what it is like. Most people don’t get it. The way I explain it to them is by saying that anxiety is like a check engine light of a car.
The check engine light comes on when it senses there is something wrong with the engine. It is saying that there is a problem that needs to be fixed asap and if its not fixed, the whole car could break down.
Although there can be problems with that check engine light. For one, the sensor could think that something that is normal and safe, like turning the engine on, is a problem. The light will come on but everything is safe. It can also turn on for no reason at all. No problem, nothing wrong, but that light is on and making it seem like something is wrong and hurting the car.
For most people, when something threatens them, their flight or fight response kicks in when it is time to protect themselves. But anxiety causes that response to kick in either for no reason, or it can kick in when something safe happens.