Did you know that an estimated 31.1 percent of U.S. adults experience an anxiety condition at some point in their lives? If you struggle with anxiety, you’re not alone.
While not all of these people will struggle with anxiety or panic attacks, they’re not uncommon. Many people use these terms interchangeably, but there are a few differences.
But what’s the difference between a panic attack vs. an anxiety attack? We’re here to talk about it. Keep reading to learn more.
What Is An Anxiety Attack?
For most people, anxiety attacks are more common. While there’s no mention in the DSM-5 about anxiety attacks, doctors and therapists tend to know what it means when a patient complains about them.
Anxiety attacks are brought on by prolonged anxiety. This could be anxiety due to work, family stress, relationship issues, and more. “Prolonged,” in this case, could mean excessive worry during one day or week or lower levels of anxiety that have lasted for several weeks or months.
Anxiety attacks have many of the same symptoms of general anxiety, but they’re more intense. Anxiety attacks aren’t always debilitating. Common symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Irritability or mood swings
- Dry mouth
- Brain fog
- Rapid heart rate
- Irrational or unexplainable fear
These symptoms can last for several days and even up to a week. Taking anti-anxiety medications can help.
What Is A Panic Attack?
Panic attacks are more stressful than anxiety attacks most of the time. Unlike anxiety attacks, which happen due to prolonged stress, panic attacks can happen due to a single trigger. They can also happen with no trigger at all, even if the person experiencing the attack has no history of anxiety or any other mental illness.
People are more likely to have panic attacks if they experience ongoing stress, if they have trauma-based mental health conditions, if they struggle with alcohol, if they have certain health conditions, or if there’s a family history of mental illness.
Some symptoms of panic attacks mimic symptoms of panic attacks. They tend to be more intense and many people think that they’re experiencing a heart attack when a panic attack happens. Common symptoms include:
- Hot flashes and chills
- Numbness or tingling
- Shortness of breath
- A racing or pounding heart
- Chest pain
It’s also not uncommon for people who experience panic attacks to feel as though they’re out of control. Some people may even faint.
Symptoms of panic attacks tend to be short-lived, but they may leave a lingering feeling of sickness, fatigue, or unease. Quick-dissolving anxiety medication is a good solution for panic attacks.
A Panic Attack Vs. An Anxiety Attack: Have You Experienced One?
When you’re in the middle of it, the difference between a panic attack vs. an anxiety attack doesn’t really matter. Both types of attacks can disrupt your life, and they both require help from a mental health professional.
If you’ve experienced anxiety or panic attacks, consider reaching out to a psychiatrist or counselor for help.
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