Panic Attack vs. Anxiety Attack: Know The Difference

Posted by WellO2 Australia on

The terms "anxiety attack" and "panic attack" may be used interchangeably, as though they mean the same thing. Both panic and anxiety attack, they can absolutely make you feel numb and helpless at times. 

Contrary to popular belief, panic and anxiety have distinct characteristics. Stress-induced symptoms resulting in physical and mental symptoms, such as racing heartbeat, sweaty palms, and dizziness are all signs of an overactive sympathetic nervous system (CNS). 

When it comes to the cause of an attack, there are distinctions to notice and pay attention to. 

Difference between anxiety and panic attack

Recognizing the differences between panic and anxiety attacks might help you understand the symptoms that precede before and during an episode. 

Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are sudden bursts of extreme fear or discomfort, often followed by other physical and psychological symptoms that can be debilitating and incapacitating. They might occur spontaneously or as a result of a triggering event.

Anxiety Attacks

On the other hand, anxiety is a natural aspect of the human body's emotional and defensive responses. It is only when anxiety becomes extreme or interferes with your life that you should be concerned.

Stress can lead to an anxiety attack. Chronic concern over major life events like disease and death or about the seemingly insignificant can set them off. It is the outcome of long-term stress that reaches a point of no return.

Panic attack vs anxiety attack symptoms

Physical signs of panic and anxiety attacks can help you comprehend what is going on in your mind and body.

Having a panic attack involves experiencing an overwhelming sense of fear, terror, or uneasiness that comes on suddenly and is accompanied by a number of additional mental and bodily symptoms. Panic attacks can have such severe symptoms that daily life is put on hold. 

The following are symptoms of a panic attack:

  • Chest pain
  • Excessive sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Nausea
  • The sensation of being choked
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations or a frantic heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Hot flashes
  • Chills
  • Sense of detachment (depersonalization)
  • A sense of feeling detached of your surroundings (derealization)

Panic attacks are typically unexpected and peak within a few minutes, then subside. Typically, most people recover within an hour. Panic attacks that occur frequently are a symptom of panic disorder.

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Symptoms of anxiety attack.

There are several factors that might lead to anxiety, but one of the most important is excessive worry over a real or perceived threat. A feeling of being "attacked" may occur if the buildup of stress and expectation is so great that it feels like an "attack." 

Anxiety can cause the following symptoms:

  • An overwhelming panic attack
  • Hard to concentrate
  • Heart palpitation and chest discomfort
  • Hyperventilation or startled
  • nausea and dizziness
  • Feeling as if you’re passing out
  • Restlessness

Anxiety attacks are terrifying and usually reach their apex in ten minutes or less. You can even think you're suffering a heart attack because of the severity.

Treatment for panic and anxiety attack

Both panic and anxiety attacks can cause breathing difficulties such as shortness of breath or hyperventilation which can absolutely be frightening when you don’t know how to treat it.  

If you're suffering from panic attacks or anxiety that won't go away, there's help available out there. Therapy, prescription drugs, and self-help methods, like breathing exercise trainers, are all prominent forms of treatment. You can pick and choose which of these approaches that fit you


A therapist can help you obtain a better understanding of your symptoms, develop strategies for dealing with them, work through previous trauma, establish your future course, and gain a better perspective that allows a more optimistic approach.


can help you relieve your symptoms. They may be required temporarily to reduce symptoms while you work on the other approaches.

Self-help approaches.

Breathing exercises and gradual relaxation might be effective in allowing you to develop at your own pace with symptom control. There is a range of deep breathing techniques that you can try when you're feeling anxious or about to have an episode. From exercises without equipment to having the support of a breathing trainer

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