Am I Having a Panic or Anxiety Attack?

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BY|Theo Gagen View Bio|16th Jul 2019

Panic attacks and anxiety attacks are often grouped together as if they are the same condition. Truthfully, while these two conditions have some overlapping symptoms, they are not the same. We are going to break down the differences between these two types of attacks so that when you or someone you know experiences something like this, you’ll have the knowledge and skills to properly address the situation. Let’s start with what makes them different.

A panic attack happens very suddenly and can be categorized as expected or unexpected, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Panic attacks are also known to not have an obvious cause, and are commonly triggered by phobias, or other external stressors that go undetected.  These attacks are usually debilitating and although the symptoms are similar to those of an anxiety attack, they appear to be much more intense and more physical.

Anxiety attacks are known to come on more gradually, and it can usually be determined what the cause of the attack is.  The symptoms are often less intense than those of a panic attack, and include emotional symptoms such as distress and worry.  Also, some individuals may continue to function while having an anxiety attack if they are familiar and used to experiencing the symptoms.

Below are the symptoms for both types of attacks. It’s important to note that it is possible to have more than one of these symptoms at a time. 

Symptoms that are associated with anxiety attacks and not panic attacks are:

  • Apprehension
  • Worry
  • Distress
  • Restlessness

Symptoms that are apparent for both anxiety and panic attacks are:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tightness in the throat
  • Dry mouth
  • Shaking or tingling
  • Nausea and abdominal pain
  • Headache or lightheadedness

Both panic attacks and anxiety attacks have symptoms that can vary from person to person, meaning your experience with a panic or anxiety attack may be different than other peoples. 

Additionally, a lot of the symptoms associated with panic and anxiety attacks can be possible symptoms for other medical issues as well. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and are unsure of the root cause, you should see a medical professional.

We hope this was helpful to you.  If you or someone you know is having trouble managing the symptoms of panic or anxiety attacks, it’s important to seek professional help. You can go to https://sondermind.com to find a mental healthcare professional that fits your needs and can help you determine coping mechanisms.

 

If you are having an anxiety or panic attack right now and feel your safety is at risk, please call 9-1-1.