Anxiety Attack vs panic attack

Panic Attack Vs. Anxiety Attack

Anxiety attacks and panic attacks, contrary to popular belief, are not the same thing. Clinically speaking, anxiety attacks and panic attacks are defined by different features. Medical professionals will use a handbook called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM-5.


Panic Attack

Panic Attack

This describes features associated with panic disorder. Although, it is also common to see panic attacks occur in other psychiatric disorders.


Symptoms of Panic Attack

When a panic attack strikes, the signs or symptoms are sudden and very intense. The symptoms come on quickly without any cause and generally last about 10-15 minutes. After the panic attack subsides, the person may feel stressed, worried or anxious for the rest of the day. Symptoms of a panic attack include:

  • Heart palpitations or accelerated heart rate
  • Excessive sweating
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Shortness of breath of difficulty breathing
  • Feeling of choking
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness, lightheaded or faint
  • Feeling of being detached from oneself
  • Fear of going crazy
  • Fear of death
  • Numbness or tingling sensations
  • Chills or hot flashes


Anxiety Attack

Anxiety Attack

This is part of an anxiety disorder such as obsessive compulsive disorder and stressor related disorders. Some common disorders where anxiety attacks are common include panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, PTSD, and generalized anxiety and depression.


Symptoms of Anxiety Attack

An anxiety attack with usually intensify over a period of time and is associated with excessive worry about a potential danger. The symptoms of an anxiety attack are very similar to those of a panic attack. Symptoms include:

  • Muscle tension
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased startle response
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness

Fear vs. Phobia: The Key Differences


Difference Between Panic Attack and Anxiety Attack

These symptoms are generally less intense than those associated with a panic attack. Anxiety attack symptoms are very persistent and long lasting.

Panic Attack

Anxiety Attack

  • Intense symptoms.
  • Milder symptoms.
  • Shorter duration of the attack.
  • Longer duration – can last for days, weeks or months.
  • Associated with panic disorders.
  • Associated with a number of psychiatric disorders

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