Health and WellnessSelf Care

Panic Attack Vs Anxiety Attack

‘Panic attacks’ and ‘Anxiety attacks’ are words often used interchangeably. However, they are two different conditions, even though their symptoms and trigger may be alike. But some features make them not so similar. Mental health professionals use the two terms for specific disorders and symptoms.

 Anxiety attack is taken to be a layman’s word for heightened anxious feelings that build up to extreme panic. On the other hand, a panic attack comes more unexpectedly, and the reason behind it can be underlying stress and anxiety. However, it does not necessarily occur in stressful situations. Before deciding on your experience of severe anxiety and panic, it is essential to identify the symptoms, definitions, and treatments between the two.

PANIC ATTACKS                                                                 

Panic attacks trigger suddenly without any cause but involve intense fear, which might be overwhelming. The physical symptoms include increased heart rate, nausea, and fatigue. Panic attacks can be expected or unexpected.

For unexpected attacks, there is no apparent cause behind it. In comparison, the ones which are expected are caused due to external stressors, like particular phobias. Anyone can experience panic attacks; however, frequent attacks may be a sign of a disorder.

Panic attacks may have an extreme effect on your behavior. You may start avoiding certain places, which may trigger your panic attacks. These attacks bring an abrupt and sudden sense of worry, along with extreme fearful feelings. These may have physical as well as mental symptoms. Just like anxiety, feelings of panic may be due to internal or external stressors. However, unlike anxiety, panic attacks are sudden, intense, and disrupt an individual’s capacity to tolerate fear.

A few symptoms of a panic attack are:

  • Unreal feelings
  • Detaching from your feelings
  • Terror of losing control or losing one’s mind
  • Fear of death

Physical Symptoms include:

  • Increased Heart rate, uneven Heart palpitations
  • Sweating profusely
  • Shaking or quivering
  • Irregular breathing; difficulty in breathing
  • Choking
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea or abdominal discomfort
  • Fatigue
  • Numbness, losing  consciousness of one’s body
  • Chills
  • Hot flashes

What is a panic attack? 

  • They are often acknowledged as a part of another condition, usually related to a panic disorder.
  • They are unexpected, and the symptoms reach their peak in a short span at the beginning of the attack.
  • They are usually very sudden and incredibly intense.    
  • The cause can be underlying anxiety or stress. But they do not occur in that particular stressful condition or situation.
  • It occurs in different episodes. But it is undetermined whether they would occur again or not.
  • Likely, a panic attack will at least have four common symptoms in one episode.
  • Time duration spans from 20 to 30 minutes. In rare cases, it can last for more than an hour.


Anxiety, however, is a segment of the emotional and protective receptors of the human body. The cause of an anxiety attack is the accelerating intensity of constant fear, which may or may not is real. The worry and constant fear and excessive stress build up and become overwhelming, which may feel like an attack.

There are various symptoms of anxiety, which include fear, worry, and distress. Anxiety is the result of the anticipation of a stressful situation, event, or place. It escalates gradually. Unfortunately, unlike panic attacks, there is a lack of diagnostic features of anxiety attacks, making the signs and symptoms difficult for interpretation. The lack of diagnostic recognition of anxiety attacks means that the signs and symptoms are open to interpretation.

In contrast to panic attacks, anxiety intensifies gradually and is related to excessive worry and constant fear. However, the constant worry and feeling of terror can either be real or perceived. Once the toleration level surpasses, and the amount of stress becomes overwhelming, it may feel like an attack.

A few symptoms of an anxiety attack may include:

  • Disrupted focus and Difficulty in concentrating
  • Irritation
  • Unnecessary restless behavior

Physical symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Tensed muscles
  • Disturbance in sleep
  • Senses on alert, startled responses
  • Accelerated heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness

Some symptoms are generally very similar to those of a panic attack. However, they are less intense. Furthermore, they last long, sometimes even for months, and are very persistent.

What is an Anxiety attack?        

  • It is not recognized as a condition. But is perceived as a symptom of an anxiety disorder.
  • It is usually a response to an external or internal stressor, which may or may not be real.
  • It increases gradually and is very persistent.
  • They are more overwhelming.                          
  • They are more mental symptoms than physical, but physical symptoms can occur as well.

Panic and anxiety attacks may feel alike and share a few symptoms but can be quite different.  

Anxiety is usually a result of anticipating a stressful situation or event. It can be perceived as threatening and may or may not be real. Panic attacks don’t always occur due to internal or external stressors. They can be sudden and abrupt. Anxiety attacks can vary from mild, moderate, or severe. However, during a panic attack, the body is in a state of flight or fight. Physical symptoms become more intense, and the individual loses control of their body.


Darsh is a blogger and previous owner of this website.

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