Anxiety Attack vs. Panic Attack

When it comes to your mental health, you’re always going to want to be able to do the very best things for yourself. Yet, it’s not always going to be clear to you what they are. Sometimes, this can be because you’re not 100% sure what’s going on inside of your mind and your body. This can certainly be the case when it comes to anxiety attacks.

It’s often the case that people find it hard to distinguish between an anxiety attack and a panic attack. This is very normal. While both can seem quite similar, they are actually very different and come with different symptoms, and often have different triggers. So in this blog post, we’re going to take a look at the difference between anxiety attacks and panic attacks.

What is an Anxiety Attack 

An anxiety attack can be defined as a period of intense worry or uneasiness that arises suddenly. It’s something that could happen to you regularly (even as much as daily) and mean that you can feel quite a lot of upset or tension in your body. You may even find that your mind is wandering with negative thoughts.

The Symptoms of an Anxiety Attack

Common symptoms of an anxiety attack can be a deep unsettled or restless feeling that slowly appears over time and gradually worsens. The feelings can be quite generalized or be focused on one particular thing. You may find that this is triggered by something in particular. There will also be physical symptoms that accompany an attack, such as a racing heartbeat, tight chest, or dizziness.

What is a Panic Attack

A panic attack is more like a very quick and sudden fear that takes over you. They can feel more terrifying than an anxiety attack and your body will often feel like it is in immediate danger. Think flight or fight response. It can often feel like your lie is under threat. As such, the physical symptoms can feel so intense that it may appear that you’re out of control or even fear that you are going to die.

The Symptoms of a Panic Attack

The physical symptoms can mirror those of an anxiety attack, yet they are much more sudden and can be more intense. They can peak in a mere matter of minutes but last only a short period of time, particularly when compared to anxiety attacks. However, some of the physical signs can feel the same, such as nausea, shortness of breath, and chest pain.

The Differences Between the Two

Now we’re going to take a look at some of the key differences between the two, as they can seem quite similar and it may be useful for you to compare some of the things that differ.

The Causes

Firstly, the cause can be quite different. Usually, anxiety will be triggered by an experience or situation yet a panic attack can happen without an obvious cause.

The Effects

The physical effects can be quite similar. You may experience a racing heart, chest tightness, dizziness, sickness, sweating, and difficulty catching your breath. But it’s the severity and how they come on the differs to two.

The Levels of Distress

Generally speaking, a panic attack is worse in terms of its severity. It will come on suddenly and feel quite difficult to calm down, but often last only a few minutes to an hour. You may even feel as if you’re losing control or dying. Whereas an anxiety attack can feel milder and come with feelings of uneasiness that last for days, weeks, or longer.

Risk Factors of Both

For both types of attacks, you may find that the risk factors can be slightly different. In an anxiety attack, a situation, experience, or trigger can cause it. Yet sometimes, panic attacks can happen without a trigger being known.

The Difference in Treatments for Anxiety Attacks and Panic Attacks

Now, in both instances you may find that medication can be offered, yet to slow down an attack breathing exercises and looking to be mindful can help. Anything that encourages the breathing to return to normal and the heart rate to slow down. Talking therapies are also very effective in treating both panic and anxiety attacks and can teach valuable coping techniques that can be applied in both situations.

Reach Out to us Today for Support

If you think you may have been experiencing anxiety attacks or you know someone that has, you can reach out to us today to get support. Contact us and we can talk you through the options we have available.

Medical Disclaimer: Peaks Recovery Centers uses fact-based content about recovery treatment, addiction medicine, and behavioral health conditions to improve the quality of life for those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction or mental health disorders. This information is not intended to replace professional medical guidance, diagnosis, care, or treatment. This information should not be used as a substitute for advice from a qualified healthcare provider and/or your physician.