Difference Between Anxiety Attack vs Panic Attack  

In today’s world, we all heard the terms “Anxiety Attack” and “Panic Attack”. People often used the terms anxiety attack and panic attack interchangeably. They say that they are suffering from anxiety attacks or panic attacks, and there are also some people which think that both terms are the same thing. But that’s not the truth. These are completely different from each other. So then the question raises what really are they?  

In this article, you will find the major differences between anxiety attack vs panic attack. Let’s take a look into both of these a little closer so that we can find out the overlooked difference between them:  

What is Anxiety Attack?

Anxiety attacks occur when a person has a feeling that something will be going to happen really badly. So the team can be referred to as a feeling of fear or worry that often relates to a certain issue or concern. 

Anxiety is an everyday feeling, and most people will experience different levels of anxiety at some point in their life, which is normal.

The DSM-5 doesn’t mention anxiety attacks, however, it does define anxiety as a feature of a number of common psychiatric disorders.

Anxiety attacks typically will have a known cause (usually something external), they may occur without an identifiable cause (a deep-rooted psychological issue or maybe due to other medical conditions).

Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety Attack Disorders

Below are the primary symptoms of excessive and irrational fear and worry, which include:

  • Feelings of apprehension or dread.
  • Watching for signs of danger.
  • Anticipating the worst.
  • Trouble concentrating.
  • Feeling tense and jumpy.
  • Irritability.
  • Feeling like your mind’s gone blank.

What is a Panic Attack?

Panic attacks are sudden feeling of terror that occurs without warning. These episodes can occur at any time, even during sleep also.  

Panic attacks can be very terrifying. When panic attacks occur, you may think that you are losing control, you are having a heart attack, or even dying. Panic attacks are very intense periods of fear or feelings of doom developing over a very short time frame up to 10 minutes. 

Panic attacks are mainly associated with a condition known as panic disorder, although they can occur with other mental disorders. A panic attack is also possible if you don’t have any disorder.

The (DSM-5) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders recognize panic attacks and classifies them as unexpected or expected.

Signs and Symptoms of Panic Attack 

Panic attacks usually start suddenly, without warning. They can strike at any time, when you’re driving, at the mall, fast asleep, or in the middle of a business meeting. You may have occasionally panic attacks, or they may occur frequently.

Panic attacks come in many varieties, but symptoms usually peak within a few minutes. You may feel tired and exhausted after the panic attack subsides.

Panic attacks usually include some of these signs or symptoms, which are mentioned below:

  • Sense of impending doom or danger
  • Fear of loss of control or death
  • Rapid, pounding heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Chills
  • Hot flashes
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or faintness
  • Numbness or tingling sensation
  • The feeling of unreality or detachment

 Anxiety Attack vs Panic Attack 

Anxiety AttackPanic Attack 
Sudden
Lasts for minutes
Shaking or trembling
Chest pain
Hot flashes
Sense of detachment
Gradually builds
Can last for months
Restlessness
Fatigue
Muscle tension
Irritability

Treatment for Panic Attack and Anxiety Attack

Regardless of whether you are dealing with panic, constant anxiety, or both, there are effective treatments. Some of the most common treatments include therapy, prescription medications, and self-help strategies. 

You can try the following methods, they are:

  • Psychotherapy can really help you better to understand your symptoms and develop ways to manage them,  work through past pain, determine your path for the future and get a clearer perspective that will allow you to look at things with more hope.
  • Medications can help you reduce your symptoms. They may only be needed for a short period of time to control symptoms while you work on other long-term strategies..
  • Self-help techniques such as breathing exercises and (PMR)  progressive muscle relaxation can also be helpful, allowing you to deal with symptoms at your own pace.

Medication

Below are some examples of medications your doctor may prescribe:

  • Antidepressants can be very helpful relieve the symptoms of conditions such as depression and anxiety disorders
  • Beta-blockers can help to manage some physical symptoms, such as rapid heart rate.
  • Anti-anxiety drugs, such as benzodiazepines, and sedatives can quickly suppress symptoms

All of these drugs can have side effects. SSRIs (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and SNRIs (Serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors) are designed for long-term use, and it may take time to feel the effect. Benzodiazepines are intended only for short-term use, as there is a high risk of addiction.

Often your doctor recommends a combination of treatments. They may also need to change your treatment procedure over time.

Conclusion

Panic attacks and anxiety are different things, but they have common symptoms. Anxiety attacks often follow periods of prolonged anxiety. Panic attacks tend to occur suddenly, and the symptoms are often more extreme.

Panic and anxiety can be disturbing and disruptive, but self-help strategies can reduce the intensity of symptoms. Therapy and medicines can prevent or reduce the number of future episodes. The sooner a person asks for help, the better the result will be.

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