Difference Between Panic & Anxiety Attacks


Regardless of the individual is a person that is anxious or not, they are probably familiar with the phrases anxiety attack and panic attack. In movies, television shows, or in casual conversations, individuals often interchange these terms. This is an inaccurate practice; anxiety attacks and panic attacks are not the same or interchangeable at all. This article will highlight the actual differences between them both, including how they should be treated.

Panic Attack

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, a customary clinical tool used for the evaluation and identification of mental disorders defines panic attacks. It says that they are abrupt surges of intense discomfort or fear. These surges reach a peak within minutes and are escorted by cognitive and or physical symptoms. The manual states that the attacks are not known as stand-alone mental conditions. However, they are often viewed in the company of various anxiety disorders.

Such as specific phobias, generalized panic disorder, or anxiety disorder. Yet these panic attacks could occur suddenly to any individual, in spite of diagnosis, with no obvious reason. For several individuals, a panic attack is an anticipated physiological response to feared situations or objects. A typical example of this is a fear of small enclosed places or fear of flying.

Tingling or numbness, heat or chills sensations, dizziness, nausea, discomfort or chest pain, shortness of breath, and shaking or trembling. Along with sweating, heart pounding, and palpitations are all physical symptoms of a panic attack. Cognitive symptoms periodically include a term known as derealization. This is defined as depersonalization commonly referred to as an out-of-body experience or a sense of disconnection from reality.

Anxiety Attack

Dissimilar to panic attacks, the phrase anxiety attack is not acknowledged as a clinical term by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. It is thought that interchanging anxiety attacks with panic attacks is likely due to overlie of symptoms between them. Either of the two could result in an elevated heart rate and shortness of breath. The main difference is that anxiety does not necessarily manifest as immediately as the phrase anxiety attack would imply.

The word attack signifies an abrupt impairment, which is typically not the situation in anxiety disorder. To be clinically diagnosed with anxiety disorder, the individual must have had a minimum of six months of chronic, everyday sensations of worry. This might be inconsistent with the impact or the likelihood of the event. The worry is challenging to control and could have a harmful impact on the capacity to handle school, work, or relationships. Anxiety has been associated with persistent and consistent symptoms of muscle tension and aches, irritability, and fatigue. Also, difficulty focusing on tasks, feeling on edge, and difficulty sleeping.

Are Anxiety Attacks & Panic Attacks Treated Similarly?

The treatment for panic attacks and anxiety attacks may appear to be quite similar and involve a mixture of approaches. Several individuals will look for psychotherapy in order to better ascertain symptom management, implement strategies for coping. Plus, identifying individual triggers. Even though symptoms might not be eradicated entirely, the therapy’s purpose is to reduce the effect on everyday functioning.

Prescription medication might be taken to aid with the reduction in feelings of anxiety for acute panic attacks cases. The medication should be taken over a prolonged period of time. It is suggested that medicines for panic and anxiety attacks are most effective when they are combined with psychotherapy.

Deep breathing techniques, mindfulness exercises, and meditation are non-pharmacological interventions that could be attempted. A common technique used is the 4-7-8 breathing method. How this works is that the individual takes a breath in through the nose for a count of four.

Then hold it for a count of seven, and gradually release through the mouth for a count of eight. This technique slows the heart rate while offering a distraction from intense feelings and thoughts at the moment. Other things such as additional sleep, decreasing the intake of alcohol or caffeine, and increasing physical activity aid with symptoms.

So basically, although they are not complete worlds apart and the treatments are quite often similar. Anxiety attacks and panic attacks are, as a matter of fact, separate and distinct things.

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