Panic attacks and anxiety attacks are two completely different terms, but some have similar symptoms. Such attacks vary in intensity and duration. You can hear people talking about panic attacks and anxiety attacks as if they are the same thing. Although they have different conditions.
The differences between panic and anxiety are best described in terms of the severity of the symptoms and the duration of the main symptoms. Panic attacks usually peak within about 10 minutes while anxiety can last for months. Onlymyhealth spoke to the editorial team Dr. Reema Gupta, Consultant, Clinical Psychology, Max Super Specialty Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, A healthy day to learn the difference between panic attacks and anxiety attacks in a special weekly live session series.
Panic attacks are usually more intense and sudden than anxiety attacks. They come out of the blue, while anxiety attacks are often associated with a trigger. Panic attacks can happen to anyone, but having multiple can be a sign of panic disorder.
Panic symptoms peak after 10 minutes, then gradually subside. However, there can be several panic attacks in a row, which makes it look like the attack has been going on for a long time. After an attack, many people feel stressed, anxious or otherwise abnormal for the rest of the day.
Also read: 8 Ways to Stop Panic Attacks Now
Panic attacks come on suddenly, without any obvious trigger. According to Dr. Rima, the main symptoms of a panic attack are:
- Fast heartbeat
- Feeling sick
- Chest pain
- Weakness of breath
- Looks like they’re going crazy
Causes of panic attacks
Panic attacks can be expected or unexpected. There is no apparent trigger for an unexpected attack. Panic attacks usually occur from the blue without an obvious, immediate trigger. In some cases, however, they are “expected” because the fear is caused by a known stress, such as a phobia.
Anxiety, on the other hand, is part of the strictly sensitive and protective responses in the human body. Anxiety is caused when it is excessive or gets in the way of your daily life.
When a panic attack comes on suddenly, the symptoms of anxiety follow a period of extreme anxiety. Symptoms may become more pronounced within minutes or hours. They are usually less severe than panic attacks. Anxiety symptoms are often more chronic than the symptoms of a panic attack. They can last for days, weeks or months.
Also read: What are the concerns? Here are six ways in which anxiety can affect your health
Anxiety is usually related to the expectation of a stressful situation, experience or event. It can come slowly. Lack of diagnostic recognition of anxiety attacks means that the signs and symptoms are open to explanation. The main symptoms of anxiety are:
- Fast heart rate
- Disrupted sleep
- Lack of attention
- Muscle tension
Tips for dealing with panic and anxiety attacks
Here are some helpful tips for dealing with panic and anxiety attacks:
- Panic attacks usually occur without a trigger. Anxiety is a response to a perceived stress or threat.
- The symptoms of a panic attack are intense and intermittent. They often involve feelings of “unreality” and isolation. Anxiety symptoms vary in intensity, from mild to severe.
- Panic attacks occur suddenly, when the symptoms of anxiety gradually become more intense within minutes, hours or days.
- Panic attacks usually subside after a few minutes, while anxiety symptoms can persist for a long time.
There are effective treatments available that can improve outcomes and well-being, so it is important to talk to a doctor if you have symptoms of anxiety or panic attacks. During an assessment, the doctor will take a medical history, a physical examination, and run lab tests to help rule out any medical illness that may be contributing to your symptoms.
Professionals who treat mental health conditions diagnose a disease based on the criteria found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th Edition) known as DSM-5. Although anxiety and panic attacks may seem similar, the differences described in the DSM.