businesswoman having a panic attack at desk

Anxiety Attack vs. Panic Attack – What’s The Difference?

Every day, anxiety seems to get worse for those who suffer from them. But why? And what exactly is a panic attack? Can you tell them apart from each other?

While both anxiety and panic describe similar feelings, they don’t always mean the same things. Here’s what you should know about how anxiety and panic attacks differ from each other.

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety describes a feeling of unease or worry that persists over time. People with anxiety experience feelings of fear, dread, apprehension, tension, nervousness, agitation, restlessness, and self-doubt. These feelings tend to worsen over time, resulting in a state of constant stress.

People with anxiety sometimes feel physically sick, such as having heart palpitations, and weak muscles throughout the body. Imagine the water flowing over your skin and soothing away your worries. Or visualize yourself walking along a beautiful beach. See yourself enjoying the sun and sand. Visualization works best when you focus on positive images rather than negative ones.

How Does Anxiety Affect Your Life?

When someone feels anxious, it affects everything he or she does. For example, people with anxiety may avoid certain situations because they don’t want to face another stressful situation.

This avoidance leads to missed opportunities, lost productivity, and wasted energy. Also, people with anxiety may think negatively about themselves and their abilities. As a result, they may lose interest in activities they enjoy and fail to reach goals they set.


A panic attack happens suddenly, often without warning, and it lasts less than five minutes. You might feel like you’re having a heart attack, or like you’re dying. Your chest feels tight, your breathing becomes rapid, and you feel dizzy or light-headed. You may even experience sweating, shaking, numbness, tingling, chills, nausea, or palpitations. You may notice that your vision seems blurry or dimmed.

Panic attacks differ from anxiety attacks, although both involve sudden feelings of fear or terror. Anxiety usually comes on gradually over several hours or days. You may feel tense, worried, irritable, restless, or jittery. You may worry about things th at aren’t really causing you concern, such as whether you’ll make mistakes at work or how others perceive you. You may feel nervous, anxious, or uneasy. These symptoms tend to go away within 15 minutes to half an hour. If you have frequent anxiety attacks, you may feel tired and worn out.

Unexpected panic attacks happen suddenly and go away relatively quickly. Anxiety starts slowly and build up over time, and usually last for much longer than a panic attack.


Panic attack symptoms and those of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are similar in some ways. They both involve extreme anxiety and panic. But there are differences too. In fact, it’s possible to suffer from one without having the other. And vice versa.

Both disorders can cause heart palpitation, sweating, dizziness and stomach pains. People suffering from either condition often feel like they’re about to die. This makes sense because both conditions are caused by extreme stress.

The difference lies in how long symptoms persist. With PTSD, people typically experience symptoms for months or even years afterwards. However the symptoms of panic attacks usually pass within minutes.


A panic attack usually lasts less than 10 minutes. But it can feel like hours. And anxiety attacks can last a long while.


Anxiety is mostly triggered by specific events and situations. They happen because you feel like something terrible is about to happen. Your brain sends out signals that make you feel anxious. These sensations often come on suddenly and without warning. You might feel tense, shaky, sweaty, short of breath, nauseous, lightheaded, dizzy, or even numb.

Panic attacks are different. They’re sudden episodes of intense anxiety that strike without warning. People experience panic attacks differently. Some people feel overwhelmed by fear; others feel trapped or suffocated by it. Others feel numb or detached from themselves.

There isn’t any way to know what triggers a particular person’s anxiety attack. But there are some things you can do to help prevent them.

GIrl anxious in busy crowd

Crowded spaces are often a trigger of both anxiety and panic attacks


What Are Anxiety Attacks?

Anxiety attacks are episodes of intense fear that cause people to experience physical symptoms such as trembling, sweating, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, numbness, tingling sensations, chest pain, abdominal cramps, chills, hot flashes, headaches, muscle tension, confusion, memory loss, blurred vision, hallucinations, and/or nightmares. They typically occur suddenly and without warning, although some people report feeling anxious beforehand.

People often feel anxious before having bouts of anxiety. If you notice yourself getting nervous before an event, you might want to consider whether it could be a sign of future attacks.

A person experiencing an anxiety attack knows exactly what causes them and how long they will last. For example, someone who experiences panic attacks knows that caffeine makes them worse, while exercise helps calm them down.

Perceived threats

In the world we live in today, it seems like everyone is always looking over their shoulder, waiting for something terrible to happen. We see news stories about war, school shootings, and even natural disasters. And while there are many legitimate reasons why someone might want to harm another person, there are also plenty of reasons why someone might want you to think they are dangerous.

People who perceive threats are usually afraid of what could happen. They may believe that someone is trying to hurt them or take advantage of them. In some cases, people who perceive threats may actually be experiencing an episode of anxiety.

Fight or Flight Response

When we feel threatened, our bodies go into action. Our heart beats faster, blood pressure rises, muscles tense up, breathing becomes shallower, and our senses become heightened. This response is called the “fight or flight” response. If we sense danger, we will either run away or fight back.

If we don’t know what the threat is, we may feel anxious. Anxiety attack occur when we feel worried or fearful without knowing exactly what is causing us concern. These can range from mild to severe.

Types of Anxiety

The word “anxiety” refers to feelings of worry, fear, nervousness, or apprehension about something. People often experience anxiety because they are worried about things like health issues, finances, family problems, or relationships. There are three main different types of anxiety disorders. Some people develop one type of anxiety disorder while others may have several.

OCD – Obsessive Compulsiveness Disorder

People with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) feel compelled to perform certain actions over and over again. They may wash their hands repeatedly, check locks multiple times, count objects, or repeat prayers. These behaviors may seem irrational to others and appear to be an excessive worry, but it doesn’t make these feelings of anxiety less real.

GAD – Generalized Anxiety Disorders

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by persistent worrying about everyday life events such as work, school, money, or family. Worrying becomes excessive and interferes with daily functioning. If you’re experiencing symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, talk to a medical professional. He or she might recommend medication, therapy, or both.

SAD – Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder (social phobia) causes extreme distress and discomfort when interacting with others. Even simple social interactions can cause panic attacks. This form of anxiety affects how people behave socially. In severe cases, people avoid situations where they think they’ll encounter someone else.

Anxiety in Everyday Life

Anxiety attacks are common among all ages. They affect people differently depending on how much stress they face in their daily lives. For example, children often experience panic attacks because of school pressure. Adults tend to experience panic attack when faced with problems such as financial difficulties, job loss, divorce, etc. Panic attacks can occur suddenly without warning and cause intense fear, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, headache, chest pain, numbness, tingling, confusion, blurred vision, heart palpitations, and even fainting.

People who suffer from anxiety attacks usually try to avoid what causes them. However, it is important to accept one’s situation and learn to deal with it. If you find yourself feeling anxious about something, there are several things you can do to reduce your level of anxiety. You might want to consider talking to someone close to you, seeking professional advice, taking medication, doing relaxation exercises, exercising, eating well, sleeping well, and/or engaging in activities that make you happy.

If you think you may be experiencing an anxiety attack, here are some signs to look out for:

• Your heart beats fast

• You feel like you cannot breathe properly

• You feel very hot or cold

• You feel lightheaded

Other risk factors

There are many other risk factors for anxiety attacks. Some people are genetically predisposed to develop anxiety disorders. They might be exposed to stressors such as bullying or trauma during childhood. Substance abuse, including alcohol use, can lead to anxiety attacks. Certain medications can cause anxiety symptoms. For example, certain antihistamines, antidepressants, and sedatives can make you feel anxious.

How Does an Anxiety Attack Feel?

Anxiety attacks are characterized by feelings of apprehension and fear. They usually begin suddenly and last for several minutes, hours or days. In some cases, people experience symptoms like sweating, dizziness, shortness of breath, trembling, numbness and tingling.

People who suffer from anxiety often find themselves unable to sleep well, which makes it hard to function properly during the day. This leads to feeling tired and exhausted, which further worsens their mood.

What is a Panic Attack?

A panic attack is a sudden wave of fear that strikes suddenly and unexpectedly. You might experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, numbness, tingling, sweating, racing heartbeats, trembling, shaking, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, hot flashes, chills, vision problems, hearing loss, confusion, choking sensations, weakness, fatigue, lightheadedness, fainting, blurred vision, slurred speech, palpitations, rapid pulse, cold hands and feet, pounding heartbeat, tightness in throat, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, feelings of unreality, depersonalization, derealization, and/or dissociation.

Panic disorders affect approximately 5% of the population worldwide, characterized by recurrent episodes of unexpected panic. In some people, panic attacks occur daily, while others have infrequent episodes. Symptoms vary widely among individuals, even within families. Some people have only one type of panic attack; others have multiple types.

Common Causes & Risk Factors

Anxiety disorders affect about 30 million Americans. About half of those affected experience symptoms severe enough to interfere with daily life. Panic disorder affects approximately 5% of the population. People suffering from anxiety attacks often feel like there is no escape from their feelings of doom and dread. They may even feel as though they’re having a heart attack.

There are many causes of both types of anxiety attack. For example, some people develop anxiety because of a fear of flying or driving. Others develop it because of a specific event such as a death in the family, a divorce, or losing a job. Still others develop it because of a general feeling of being overwhelmed by too much responsibility.

Some people who suffer from panic disorders will go into a state where they become hyperventilating, which can lead to faints. This type of episode is called a panic attack. Other times, people who suffer frequent panic attacks will simply feel extremely anxious. In either case, the person experiencing the attack feels out of control.

Social situations can cause anxiety. If you’ve ever felt nervous around someone else, you know what I mean. You might find yourself sweating, shaking, or even feeling faint. These reactions are caused by adrenaline. Adrenaline is produced naturally by your body to help you cope with stressful events. But sometimes, you don’t produce enough of it. When that happens, you’ll start to feel anxious.

Driving can trigger a panic episode. Many people think that driving makes them anxious. However, most people who suffer from anxiety attacks do not actually have a problem while behind the wheel. Instead, they tend to have problems when they are exposed to certain stimuli. For instance, they may have trouble breathing during a long car ride or when they are stuck in traffic.

businesswoman having panic attack at work

Panic attacks can cause physical symptoms too such as chest pain


What is Panic Disorder?

Panic disorder is characterized by recurrent attacks of sudden fear accompanied by physical symptoms such as shaking, heart racing, breathing difficulties, chest pains, nausea, sweating, dizziness, faintness, weakness, confusion, loss of bladder control, and/or fainting spells.

Treatment for panic attacks includes cognitive behavioral therapy, antidepressants, beta blockers, tricycle drugs, monoamine oxidase inhibitor, anticonvulsant medications, and electroconvulsive treatment.

Risk Factors

Panic attacks are characterized by sudden episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, numbness, tingling, racing heart, sweating, shaking, choking sensations, nausea, and/or vomiting. They tend to occur suddenly and unexpectedly, sometimes without warning. Many people experience one or more of these symptoms during a single episode. Some people have recurrent panic attacks.

People who have panic disorder often report having had multiple previous panic attacks. In addition, about half of those diagnosed with panic disorder have another psychiatric illness, most commonly major depression. This suggests that there may be some shared biological vulnerability underlying both panic disorder and major depressive disorder.

The exact cause of panic disorder is unknown. However, it seems likely that genetic factors play a role in developing the disorder. Research indicates that panic disorder runs in families, suggesting that genes may influence susceptibility. For example, studies suggest that people with panic disorder are more likely to have relatives with panic disorder than are people without panic disorder.

In addition, certain environmental factors seem to trigger panic attacks. These include stressors like job loss, relationship problems, financial difficulties, death of someone close, and moving to a new place. Other triggers include alcohol use, caffeine intake, smoking, exercise, eating too much food, and a traumatic event.

Although many people who have panic disorder do not seek treatment, research suggests that early intervention can help prevent panic attacks from becoming chronic. Treatment options include medication, psychotherapy, relaxation training, biofeedback, cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnosis, and self-help techniques.

A number of medications used to treat panic disorder are effective. Examples include antidepressants, antianxiety drugs, beta blockers, benzodiazepines, and tricyclic antidepressants. Medications generally work best when combined with psychotherapy.

Psychotherapy, or talking therapy as it’s sometimes known, involves talking about issues related to panic attacks. Psychotherapies include behavior therapy, cognitive therapy, interpersonal therapy, psychoanalysis, and supportive counseling. Behavioral therapies focus on learning how to cope better with situations that might lead to panic attacks.

Cognitive therapies teach patients ways to think differently about themselves and their situation. Interpersonal therapies help people develop strategies for dealing with others. Psychoanalysis focuses on unconscious conflicts that may contribute to panic attack. Supportive counseling helps people learn to deal effectively with life events.

How Does a Panic Attack Feel?

Panic attacks are very common among people suffering from mental disorders. They occur when someone experiences intense physical sensations like heart palpitations, rapid breathing, dizziness, and feeling faint. These sensations usually come out of nowhere and can cause you to lose control over yourself. You might even experience feelings of terror, helplessness, and/or dread.

The most important thing to remember about panic attacks is that they aren’t dangerous. In fact, there are no known long-term health risks associated with having one. However, it’s still possible to develop some serious medical conditions if left untreated.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of a panic attack, try taking deep breaths and focusing on relaxing your body. Try counting backwards from 10 to calm down. If you find yourself getting too anxious, take a break and return to the activity later.

Mental symptoms

Anxiety attacks can cause physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, sweaty palms, trembling, nausea, chest pains, shortness of breath and numbness. They can also lead to problems with concentration, memory, sleep patterns, eating habits and relationships.

The body responds differently to different kinds of stresses. If someone experiences an overwhelming amount negativity, the brain releases hormones called “stress hormones,” which can trigger a panic reaction.

A panic attack occurs when a sufferer feels intense fear and dread over something happening, even though it’s not real. Sufferers often feel like they’re experiencing a heart attack.

Worrying too much about what could go wrong is normal, but constant worry is unhealthy. Anxious thoughts can be triggered by many factors including work pressures, family issues, financial worries, health concerns, relationship troubles, and social situations.

People who suffer from anxiety attacks tend to feel out of control and powerless to stop their fears. Many people also experience frequent panic attacks, but when you’re in the moment, it can be hard to tell the difference between a panic attack vs. anxiety attack.

Physical symptoms

Panic attacks can cause physical symptoms such as accelerated heart rates, shortening of breath, pain in chest, sweating, drymouth, trembling, feeling faint or dizziness, tightening of throat, etc. These symptoms usually last less than ten minutes.

There are two main types of treatment for panic disorder – cognitive behavioural therapy and medication. Cognitive behavioural therapy focuses on identifying thoughts/behaviors that lead to anxiety and learn how to cope with them.

How to Calm Attacks

Attacks cause shortness of breath, chest pain, sweating, nausea, dizziness, and feeling out of control. While many people experience some form of anxiety or panic during stressful situations, others suffer from chronic anxiety or panic disorders that can severely impact their lives. If you think you might be experiencing one of these problems, here are some tips to calm down.

Embrace the Attack

Recognize anxiety or panic attacks. Anxious feelings often occur without warning. You may feel anxious about something specific, such as a test or job interview, or just generally worried about things. People with panic disorder tend to worry about having another episode. When you notice signs of anxiety or panic, take note of how long they last and whether they are accompanied by physical sensations like rapid heartbeat or sweaty palms.

Use Remedies Such as Lavender

Lavender oil has been used for centuries to help relax and relieve stress, and recent studies have proven its validity in reducing anxiety. It’s natural and safe for use around children and pets. Lavender comes in all kinds of sprays and drop forms for different use cases, including diffusers and pillow sprays.

Deep Breathing Exercises

Practice deep breathing exercises. Deep breathing techniques can help reduce stress and anxiety. Try taking several slow breaths through your nose while counting slowly to four. This technique calms the body and reduces muscle tension. Breathing deeply helps oxygenate the blood and relaxes

Medication helps reduce the frequency & severity

The most common medications used for treating panic disorders are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). The job of an SSRI is to levels of serotonin in the brain. SSRIs are effective for 80% of patients with panic disorder. However, some patients do not respond well to SSRI treatment. In addition, there are side effects associated with taking SSRIs.

Cognitive behaviour therapy works by helping individuals identify thoughts and behaviours that trigger panic and teaches skills to help manage them. CBT is highly effective for 90% of patients with panic disorders.

Panic Attacks vs. Anxiety Attacks

In conclusion, it is important to recognize when you are experiencing an anxiety or panic attacks. It is also important to know what triggers your anxiety so that you can avoid those triggers. Finally, if you feel you can relate to any of this and may have an undiagnosed medical condition, then you must seek help from a mental health professional.

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Last Updated on December 23, 2022 by Neurodadversity

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30-Something Millennial with ADHD and suspected Autistic and Dyspraxic. Thought leader behind this website. Big visions of a better future for everyone, but forgets where he is half the time.Loves Rugby, his kids, and anything silly. Hates U2 and Marmite.

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