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Difference Between a Panic Attack and an Anxiety Attack




Have you ever felt sudden and intense fear that seemed to come out of nowhere? Maybe you felt like your heart was or you were going to lose control. These can be symptoms of both anxiety and panic attacks, two terms that are often used interchangeably but are quite different. Anxiety is a feeling of unease that we all experience at a certain point in our lives. A little bit of anxiety is healthy for us as it tells our body how to cope with difficult situations. However, if it becomes overwhelming or persistent, it can affect our mental state.


Panic attacks are more intense compared to anxiety attacks. It can make you feel like you're having a heart attack. Therefore, understanding the difference between a panic attack and an anxiety attack is very crucial. It can help you find the right treatment and manage your mental health effectively.


In this blog, we will explore the differences between a panic attack and an anxiety attack. We will also shed light on their distinct characteristics and the approaches to managing each. By the end, you'll have a better understanding of these two conditions and feel more comfortable handling them if they arise. So, let's dive in!



What Is A Panic Attack?

A panic attack is a sudden and intense feeling of fear that can be overwhelming and distressing. It's a natural stress response, and anyone can experience it. During a panic attack, you may feel like you're losing control, having a heart attack, or even dying. These attacks can be triggered by external stressors like phobias, but they can also occur unexpectedly. If you're experiencing frequent panic attacks, then it’s time to talk to the best neuropsychiatrist in Kolkata to get the help you need.


Panic Attack Symptoms

If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned below then you must immediately get in touch with a good psychiatry doctor in Kolkata. Having more than one panic attack is a concerning issue and a sign of panic disorder.


  • Accelerated heart rate

  • Sweating or chills

  • Trembling or shaking

  • Shortness of breath

  • Feeling of choking

  • Chest pain or discomfort

  • Nausea

  • Dizziness

  • Numbness or tingling sensations

  • Fear of losing control

  • Fear of dying

  • Hot flashes or chills


What Causes Panic Attacks?

Panic attacks are usually caused by a combination of factors. Some factors that are mainly held responsible for these attacks include:


  • Work Pressure

  • Phobias

  • Traumatic experience

  • Chronic diseases

  • Overuse of caffeine

  • Thyroid Problems

  • Financial Problems

  • Relationship Issues

What Is An Anxiety Attack?

Anxiety attacks are usually triggered by a specific situation or stressor and build gradually. It feels like a sense of overwhelming fear and worry. These attacks can last for a few months and usually subside when the trigger is removed or the stressful situation is resolved.


Anxiety Attack Symptoms

The signs of anxiety attack and panic attacks are quite similar and can vary from person to person. You might experience anxiety symptoms for a few hours to days. However, anxiety attacks are typically less intense compared to panic attacks. Common symptoms of anxiety attacks include –


  • Rapid heartbeat or palpitations

  • Sweating

  • Trembling or shaking

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

  • Dizziness

  • Irritability or mood changes

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Difficulty concentrating


What Causes Anxiety Attacks?

Generally, stressful situations such as financial problems, relationship issues, or work-related stress can trigger the symptoms of anxiety attacks. Negative thinking patterns may also contribute to anxiety attacks in some people. It has been found that people who are prone to worrying may be more susceptible to anxiety attacks.


Major Difference Between Anxiety And Panic Attack

Anxiety attacks and panic attacks are both types of psychological disorders. But they have some differences in their symptoms and duration. Anxiety attacks are usually triggered by a specific situation or stressor. Panic attacks can occur unexpectedly, even during sleep. Anxiety attacks can last for a few minutes or hours and usually subside when the stressful situation is resolved. Panic attacks, on the other hand, come on suddenly and reach a peak within minutes. Panic attacks can be more severe and have a more profound impact on a person's life than anxiety attacks. Both anxiety attacks and panic attacks can cause rapid heartbeat, and difficulty breathing. But panic attacks can also include feelings of detachment, chest pain, and a fear of losing control or going crazy.


What To Do When You Get A Panic Attack?

If you experience a panic attack, it's important to stay calm. Take deep breaths and breathe slowly. Try to find a quiet place to sit down and relax. Remind yourself that the attack will pass and that it's just a temporary feeling. Try to distract yourself by thinking about peaceful things or listening to calming music. If you still find it difficult to manage you must get help from a good psychiatrist who can provide you with guidance and support.


What To Do When You Get An Anxiety Attack?

During an anxiety attack, you should take long and deep breaths for 5-7 seconds. The deep breathing practice will supply oxygen to your brain and promote a sense of ease and calm. Make sure to stay calm and believe that you’re going to be okay soon. Avoid fighting the situation, and tell yourself that you’re safe. You can also splash some cold water on your face to stay relaxed.


How to Manage Panic Attacks and Anxiety Attacks?

You can practice self-care strategies to prevent and treat panic attacks and anxiety attacks. Here are some steps you can take to manage these conditions:


Practice Relaxation Techniques

Deep breathing techniques and aromatherapy are considered beneficial practices to prevent such conditions. Practicing mindfulness meditation every day can help you relax and reduce anxiety.


Challenge Negative Thoughts

Negative thoughts can fuel anxiety and panic attacks. Learn to recognize negative thoughts and challenge them with positive ones. It’s very important to remind yourself that this condition will pass soon and you will be alright.


Exercise Regularly

Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity including morning walks most days of the week.


Avoid Triggers

You have to identify triggers that cause your anxiety or panic attacks and try to avoid them or minimize your exposure to them.


Seek Professional Help

An experienced psychiatrist can help you develop coping strategies and provide support. They may recommend therapy, medication, or a combination of both to prevent anxiety or panic attacks.

Say No to Alcohol and Caffeine

If you want to prevent and treat anxiety attacks, it's important to limit or avoid alcohol and caffeine. Both of these substances can trigger your anxiety symptoms. Alcohol is a depressant that can affect your mood and make you feel more anxious. It can also interfere with sleep, which can further increase anxiety. On the other hand, Caffeine is a stimulant that can cause restlessness, and rapid heartbeat, all of which can contribute to anxiety. Instead, focus on drinking plenty of water and eating a healthy balanced diet.

Wrap Up

Panic attacks and anxiety attacks can be frightening experiences that can affect your physical and mental well-being. While there are similarities between the two, both are different conditions. Understanding these differences can help you better recognize and manage these conditions. If you're struggling with panic or anxiety attacks, you must seek professional help from a doctor. Don’t worry, you are not alone and there is always help available.


Frequently Asked Questions

What Happens During An Anxiety Attack?

During an anxiety attack, you may experience intense feelings of fear, along with physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, trembling, and difficulty breathing.


What Does A Panic Attack Feel Like Physically?

During a panic attack, you may experience physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, and chest pain.


What Causes Panic Attacks And Anxiety Attacks?

Panic attacks and anxiety attacks are psychological disorders that can be caused by traumatic experiences, work stress, and chemical imbalances in the brain.


How Long A Panic Attack Does Last?

It varies from person to person. Some people may experience it for 5 -10 minutes while others can have it for around 20 minutes.


Which Are The Best Exercises To Prevent Panic Attacks?

Deep breathing and mindfulness meditation can help you prevent and treat these conditions.



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