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The Difference Between Panic Attacks And Anxiety Attacks

Panic Attacks and Anxiety Attacks

Table of Contents

Sharon McCulloch

Although often confused, panic attacks and anxiety attacks are two very different things. A panic attack is a sudden burst of intense fear and anxiety, often triggered by a specific situation or event. It can make you feel like you are about to lose control and go crazy, take your breath away, or fill your mind with scary thoughts. You may feel like you are having an asthma attack or heart attack because the symptoms are so strong.

There are many types of anxiety attacks as well, but they tend to be less intense than panic attacks. When someone has an anxiety attack, it is generally their body responding to stressors such as being in an elevator alone or sitting in class with threatening strangers. Instead of feeling regular fear from these situations like most people do, they can experience a sudden sense of panic, and feel like they’re in real danger. Anxiety attacks rarely last more than 20 minutes.

What Is A Panic Attack?

A panic attack is an intense and sudden feeling of extreme anxiety and fear. It can happen at any time, without any real warning. Panic Attacks can last anywhere from a couple of minutes to a couple of hours. A stressful event usually sparks panic attacks, but this is not the same as anxiety. Some people experience anxiety from time to time, perhaps when they are in a new situation or dealing with a difficult problem.

Anxiety disorders occur when these feelings occur more frequently or severely than normal and last longer than a few weeks. In fact, they are one of the most common mental health disorders there are.

Signs Of A Panic Attack

  • A sudden feeling of intense fear and anxiety
  • Feeling like you are about to lose control
  • Feeling like you are going crazy
  • The feeling that you cannot get your breath
  • The feeling of butterflies in your stomach
  • Feeling like you have a lump in your throat
  • The feeling that you are sweating
  • The feeling like your heart is racing
  • The feeling that you are going to pass out
  • Other signs depending on the person

Signs Of An Anxiety Attack

  • A sudden feeling of intense fear and anxiety
  • Feeling like you are being threatened
  • Feeling like you have no control over the situation
  • Feeling panicky when you are in the elevator alone or sitting in class with strangers
  • Feeling like you’re in real danger
  • Feeling like you’re trapped, with no way to escape
  • Feeling like you are being watched or followed
  • Feeling like you are going to have a panic attack

How To Recognise If You Are Having A Panic Attack?

If you are experiencing any of the above signs, you might be having a panic attack. There are, however, a few things to keep in mind. While everyone experiences them differently, there are certain factors that are common to most panic attacks. They usually come on very quickly, as opposed to building up over time. And they are often triggered by a specific event or situation.

Knowing what to look for, there are a few ways to confirm whether you are having a panic attack. You can ask yourself the following questions: Am I experiencing more than four of these signs? Is my breathing rapid and irregular? Is my heart racing and pounding?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be experiencing a panic attack.

Panic Attacks And Anxiety Attacks Are Different Are Different

Panic attacks are sudden and unexpected, while anxiety is a more prolonged state of feeling anxious and worried. Anxiety can cause panic attacks, but not all panic attacks are caused by anxiety.

If you are experiencing anxiety, you may feel a lasting sense of being under threat, or having no control over your thoughts. You may worry about even minor things, and feel constantly on edge.

While this can be an extremely overwhelming experience, it is important to note that anxiety is not always a bad thing. In fact, it is a normal response to stressful situations. Humans are wired to experience anxiety in these situations because it can help us to stay safe. However, while anxiety is a normal response to stress, you should note that not all anxiety is helpful.

Treating Panic Attacks: The Basics

If you are experiencing a full-blown panic attack, the first thing to do is to try to slow your breathing. There are many breathing techniques that can be helpful in calming you (or someone else) down.

If the attack does not subside, you should seek medical assistance as soon as possible.

On very rare occasions, panic attacks can potentially cause someone to collapse or even to stop breathing. If that happens to someone near you, it is important to begin First Aid, giving them CPR if required. If you don’t know much about First Aid, taking a First Aid course can give you all the skills to need for emergencies like this.

Once you have calmed yourself down, you can try to process your thoughts and identify what may have caused the attack. If you find such attacks occuring repeatedly, it’s a good idea to see a doctor and seek advice and help.

Managing Your Fear Of Having Another Panic Or Anxiety Attack

This is where therapy comes into play. You can talk to a trained therapist who can help you unearth the causes of your anxiety and/or panic attacks. A therapist can guide you through exercises that help you explore your thoughts and feelings surrounding the attacks.

They may help you with activities that allow you to confront your fears. They may also have you journal about what you are feeling and why. This work is important because it helps you start identifying the source of your anxiety and panic. It also teaches you skills that you can use to manage your panic attacks and anxiety attacks. This can include relaxation techniques and other ways to cope with your fears.

Treating An Anxiety Attack

Luckily, anxiety attacks are usually short-lived. If you find yourself experiencing an anxiety attack, again the best thing you can do is to control your breathing and take deep breaths. This can help you calm down and regain control.

If your anxiety attack is due to a specific cause (e.g., a stressful event), try to identify and address it.

If you are experiencing anxiety on a regular basis, it may be because you are struggling with a specific mental health disorder. There are many types of anxiety disorders, including generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, and panic disorders. If you are experiencing regular anxiety attacks, it’s a good idea to see a doctor.

Bottom Line

Panic attacks and anxiety attacks are two very different things. A panic attack is a sudden burst of intense fear and anxiety, often triggered by a specific situation or event. An anxiety attack is generally more gradual, but long-lasting.

Both panic attacks and anxiety attacks can be very alarming and challenging, but there are ways to manage these attacks and the ongoing factors that cause them. Help is at hand if you need it.

Article by Holly Vitols

The content on this website offers general insights regarding health conditions and potential treatments. It is not intended as, and should not be construed as, medical advice. If you are facing a medical emergency, dial 000 immediately and follow the guidance provided.

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