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Anxiety vs. Panic Attack

panic attack vs anxiety attack
Anxiety vs. Panic Attack

Anxiety and panic attacks are closely related but are not identical. While anxiety attacks can build up over time, panic attacks accelerate fast. These attacks can result in paralyzing fear and worry accompanied by additional psychological and physical symptoms. Both conditions interfere with patients’ lives and can overwhelm simple everyday activities.

If you’re struggling with either anxiety or panic attacks, you need a proper diagnosis and treatment. Knowing what you’re dealing with is crucial because these conditions have several overlapping symptoms. This article will clarify the differences and discuss each condition’s symptoms. You’ll also learn when to see a mental health professional and how they can help.

Panic Attack Symptoms

Panic attacks are typically more severe compared to anxiety attacks. They can come out of the blues with no apparent trigger.

The physical symptoms associated with these attacks can be scary. Some patients imagine having a heart attack since the signs are closely related. A mental health practitioner can provide a diagnosis following a physical and psychological exam. They’ll look for the following symptoms:

  • Chills: Patients suddenly feel cold with no logical explanation.
  • Hot flashes: Sudden, unexplained hot flashes can accompany an attack.
  • Sweating: Many panic attack patients sweat (on the forehead, palms, and other body parts) during an episode.
  • Heart palpitations: Fast heart rates are common panic attack symptoms.
  • Feeling detached from yourself or your surroundings.
  • Fear of dying: Sometimes, panic attacks cause intense fear of dying or losing control of oneself.
  • Chest pains: Patients may feel sharp chest pains which can intensify fear because they think they have a heart attack.
  • Shortness of breath: Difficulty breathing.
  • Confusion: Panic attack leaves you confused and disorien
  • Lightheadedness and feeling faint: During an attack, you may feel faint, dizzy, or lightheaded.
  • ted.
  • Unexplained reactions: You may react without thinking because of excessive fear.
  • Feeling choked or suffocated: You can feel as if you’re gasping for air as if someone or something is holding your throat tight.
  • Stomach upsets and nausea: During an episode, some patients feel nauseated or experience stomach discomfort.
  • Headaches: A throbbing pain in your head.
  • Numbness and or tingling: in some parts of the body.

Speaking with a mental health professional can help determine your panic disorder. Although anyone can have a panic attack at some point, frequent, intense episodes are not typical. It’s comforting to know that panic attacks are treatable. So, if you’re dealing with a number of the symptoms discussed here, it would be best to seek help. It’s never too late to get back control of your life.

Read this article to learn how to help someone having a panic attack overcome an episode.

Anxiety Attack Symptoms

Panic Attacks and Anxiety
Anxiety, like panic, is a normal part of human life. Anxiety can be your friend. When you’re facing a challenging task, such as preparing for a job interview, a healthy dose of anxiety can help you prepare well. Anxiety becomes a problem when you stay anxious, even after the threat is gone. Some patients with anxiety disorders also have more stress than triggers.

Additionally, if the cause of anxiety is imaginary rather than actual, that may indicate a problem. Anxiety attack occurs when you experience too much fear and worry that you almost can’t breathe. Such anxiety is not normal because instead of helping you, it paralyzes you.

The symptoms, which are mainly similar to those of panic attack, are

  • Excessive fear
  • Feeling distressed and worried
  • Restlessness
  • Fast heart rate
  • Shortness of breath
  • Trembling
  • Chills and hot flashes
  • Headaches
  • Light headedness
  • Chest pains.

These symptoms alone can be a sign of several health conditions. You need to speak with a doctor to determine if you need mental help.

Difference Between Anxiety Attack and Panic Attack

The symptoms can be similar. You may need to focus on the cause and intensity to differentiate between anxiety and panic attacks.

Here’s a summary of the differences.


Anxiety Attack Panic Attack
Has a trigger (real or imagined). Appears out of the blues.
It can build up over time. Attacks are usually sudden, reaching their peak fast.
It can last for days. Lasts minutes or a few hours.
It can be mild, allowing you to go on with some activities. Typically severe and disruptive.


Your natural body responses that cause anxiety and panic can help you fight or flee when necessary. However, you can get stuck in a circle of distress and fear when these systems are flawed.

Thankfully, you can get help to regain control of your mind. Seek treatment if you suspect you or a loved one is struggling with anxiety or panic attacks. Arcara’s anxiety treatment Boston clinic can help.


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