Panic Attacks and Anxiety Is there a difference?

How can you tell if you are having a panic attack. Are there anxiety attacks? Our healthcare professionals have some helpful tips for you.

Panic Attacks and Anxiety Is there a difference?

Breaking Down Panic Attacks and Anxiety

Fear is taking over you and you start having a physical reaction to your emotional state, but is this a heart attack, a panic attack, or an anxiety attack? The first distinction to make is that there is no such thing as an anxiety attack. People who talk about anxiety attacks are really referring to panic attacks. Here are the facts you need to know to understand this condition and how you can spot it.

Panic Attacks

What is a panic attack? Here is a brief definition that can help you understand:

  • An episode of intense fear
  • It is sudden
  • Involves physical symptoms
  • It usually happens when there is no imminent danger
  • There might not even be an apparent cause

Panic attack symptoms

Panic attacks might feel like a heart attack, with symptoms like:  

  • Rapid or pounding heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Breathlessness
  • Feeling of choking
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness or faintness
  • Feelings of unreality
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Chills or hot flushes
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy
  • Fear of dying

Many people who are suffering from a panic attack may actually think they are having a heart attack. Healthcare professionals will know how to tell the difference. If you are suffering from any of the symptoms above, please seek immediate medical assistance. 

Am I suffering from panic disorder?

If you get these sudden episodes of intense fear that manifest themselves through physical symptoms repeatedly, you might be suffering from panic disorder. This mental health disorder is a type of anxiety disorder. Panic disorder can run in families. Nevertheless, you might experience a panic attack without suffering from panic disorder. 

The good news is that panic disorder is treatable. You can improve your quality of life through therapy and the use of medication. You should have a physical examination by your GP first to rule out any other health condition that could be causing the symptoms associated with this mental health disorder. Once you do this, a mental health professional can evaluate your situation, diagnose you, and start treatment.

Anxiety attacks?

Although some people might refer to a panic attack as an anxiety attack, they are indeed just talking about panic attacks. The literature on the subject does not support the existence of anxiety attacks per se, rather  mental health professionals talk about anxiety disorders to refer to a range of mental health disorders.

There are different anxiety disorders, such as:

  • Social Anxiety Disorder or Social Phobia
  • Panic Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Panic attacks are typical of a subset of anxiety disorders. For instance, a person suffering from PTSD might experience some of the same physical, panic attack symptoms that a person with panic disorder can experience.

Contact a mental health professional

If you are suffering from recuring panic attacks or any other symptom related to anxiety disorders, you should contact a mental health professional. With the guidance of a therapist, you will be able to get a diagnosis to help you understand what may trigger your panic attacks, and how to treat them.

A mental health professional will also be able to diagnose you and help you understand if your panic attacks are a symptom of any kind of anxiety disorder or if it was a transient episode.

Antidote Health can help

Our mental health professionals here at Antidote Health can also help you from the comfort of your home. We will be able to help you understand whether you have panic disorder or any other anxiety disorder. Our doctors can also give you the treatment that you need, and our GPs can order a set of tests to determine whether your symptoms might have been triggered by a different kind of health condition.

Check our telehealth plans, sign up, and contact us 24/7. We are here to help!

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