Difference – Anxiety Attack and Panic Attack

Anxiety attacks and Panic attacks are interchangeably used by us without knowing the differences. Both terms appear to be similar, which is why we tend to use them. However, there are differences that are focused on the specifics of symptoms and disorders, which can provide clarity.

The differences between panic and anxiety attacks are the symptoms and the duration of the attacks. Panic attacks are associated with panic disorder. Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder. It is possible to experience a panic attack if the person doesn’t have panic disorder.

Panic Attack

A recurrent and unexpected panic attack that occurs “out of the blue.” An abrupt surge of intense fear and intense discomfort. It reaches the peak of fear within 1 to 10 minutes and lasts for 20 to 30 minutes. In some cases, it can last for an hour. During the panic attack, the following symptoms must occur:.

A panic attack can occur with or without a trigger in the environment. Panic attacks are so unexpected that they are not provoked by any immediate trigger. A person can experience panic when they are relaxing or when they are asleep, which is called nocturnal panic.

Increased heart rate or pounding of heart

  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling of choking
  • Chest pain and discomfort
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Feeling nauseous or abdominal distress
  • Chill or heat sensation
  • Losing touch with oneself and the reality
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy
  • Fear of death
  • Feeling numb
  • Feeling dizzy or faint

Anxiety Attack

Anxiety attack is not a psychological condition; it is not mentioned in the DSM criteria as a disorder, but it is a symptom related to other anxiety disorders like generalized anxiety disorder and specific phobia. Social anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Anxiety attack is experience when the person is exposed to the trigger factor or provoked by ruminating in the worry for a long time. The fear, worry, or stress builds up to a high level, and it reaches an attack.

The anxiety attack signs are

  • Restlessness
  • Frustration
  • Difficult in focusing
  • Restless sleep
  • Faint or feeling dizzy
  • Increased heart rate
  • Muscle tension or stiffness

What to do when you experience the symptoms of anxiety or panic attacks

  • Seek counseling: Counseling can help the individual gain understanding about the differences, and the psychologist will use behavior and cognitive behavioral techniques that can help the individual change their automatic thinking, challenge their irrational thinking, and expose them to the feared situation to overcome the fear.
  • Medications: Medication should be taken with the recommendation and prescription of a psychiatrist. Medication will help the individual manage the symptom, but it won’t cure the panic or anxiety attack. In some cases, it can lead to quick dependence, so it is essential to be mindful of using the medication with the advice and guidance of the psychiatrist.
  • Breathing techniques: The physical symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks are associated with breathing and heart rate. Breathing techniques can help the individual relax during hyperventilation.
  • Find an object to distract: Many are advised to use a sponge ball or any other object that can be used during the attacks to distract and consciously shift the individual’s focus from the trigger factor to the object.
  • Guided imagery techniques: Visualize oneself in a quiet, calm state. A relaxing environment can help the individual reduce and manage attacks.



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