What’s the Difference Between Anxiety and Panic Attacks?
Here’s What You Should Know
Anxiety and panic attacks are common mental health issues, but they can be difficult to distinguish. So, in order to help you better understand how to manage your mental health, we will discuss the differences between panic and anxiety attacks and their symptoms.
Causes and Duration
Before we get started, it’s important to note that anxiety attacks are not a discrete category of disorders. An anxiety attack most often refers to the worsening of generalized anxiety disorder symptoms. Generalized anxiety disorder is one specific type of anxiety disorder; panic attacks are a separate but related type of anxiety disorder.
Panic attacks may occur suddenly and without warning and typically last a few minutes to an hour. On the other hand, worsening of generalized anxiety disorder symptoms often have a triggering event or situation that causes them to occur and can last several hours or even days.
Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorderusually build gradually over time, depending on the triggering event or situation; while panic attacks are typically much more sudden and intense.
Symptoms of Panic Attacks
Panic attacks can be incredibly overwhelming and cause intense physical and emotional distress. They are characterized by a sudden onset of intense fear or discomfort, accompanied by several physical symptoms, like rapid heart rate, chest pain, dizziness or lightheadedness, hot flashes or chills, nausea, numbness or tingling in the extremities, shaking, shortness of breath, stomach pain, and sweating.
These physical symptoms can be accompanied by mental or emotional distress, including intense fear or worry, feeling that something terrible is about to happen, or feeling disconnected from reality.
Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Symptoms of worsening generalized anxiety disorder can last for several hours or even days, with symptoms including worry, fear, restlessness, agitation, irritability, and increased sensitivity. Other physical symptoms, such as increased heart rate, rapid breathing, trembling or shaking, difficulty concentrating, and sleep issues, can occur.
Both generalized anxiety disorder and panic attacks can be effectively managed with treatments such as medication, therapy, and healthy habits—which can include limiting alcohol and
caffeine, eating a healthy diet, and getting 8 hours of sleep each night. Breathing techniques, mindfulness, and muscle relaxation may also help you relax during an attack.
If you are struggling with anxiety or panic attacks, it is essential to talk to a qualified healthcare provider who can complete an evaluation to better understand the underlying condition, and provide the treatment and support you need.
At SOL Mental Health, our team of licensed professionals is here to help you navigate your anxiety and/or panic attacks. Contact us today for more information about our services and how we can help you manage your mental health.
Regardless of your struggles, it is important to remember that you don’t have to go through them alone. So, please reach out to us today to get started on your journey toward better mental health. We at SOL Mental Health are here for you.