Anxiety vs. Panic Attacks

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Difference between Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Anxiety strikes almost everyone at some point or another, but panic attacks are far less common. Both can cause a fair amount of discomfort and disruption however, and for these reasons alone, they are worthy of closer comparison, which is what we present in this article.

Anxiety
Panic Attacks

Definition

Anxiety is a condition in which the patient exhibits somatic, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms. The etymology of "anxiety" in fact offers a hint as to its current usage, with the word being defined as “to vex” or “to trouble”. Anxiety can cause a considerable amount of worry, fear and dread, even without the presence of psychological stress factors.

The term “panic attack” refers to instances of intense fear or apprehension that occur suddenly, and often last for only relatively short periods. They tend to begin abruptly, and reach their peak in about 10 minutes, and the signs often ease up in as little as half an hour. That being said, panic attacks may last anywhere from 15 seconds to several hours, and they may go through cycles.

Signs And Symptoms

Anxiety often causes a number of physical effects, some of which may be quite alarming. Among some of the more common symptoms of anxiety are heart palpitations, weakness in the muscles, fatigue, nausea, a pain in the chest, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, stomach aches, and headaches. a person suffering from anxiety may also exhibit paleness, sweating, trembling, and dilation of the pupils. Many of those who suffer from anxiety also report a feeling of dread or panic.

As for panic attacks, people who experience them often feel an intense fear or have an irrational belief that they are dying, or going insane. Some may even believe that they are suffering from a heart attack, even if this isn't actually happening. Still other signs of panic attacks are feeling of faintness or nausea, a numb feeling in various parts of the body, hyperventilation, or the sense that they are losing control. Panic attacks may also cause people to experience tunnel vision, although this is usually because of the blood flowing away from the head to the other parts of the body that it deems more in need of blood flow for defense.

The Anxiety - Panic Attack Connection

Anxiety and panic attacks actually have a lot in common. For instance, someone suffering an anxiety attack may experience an intense feeling of dread or panic, although this doesn't happen to everyone who experiences the condition. Panic attacks and anxiety attacks also usually occur with no prior warning, and the fear often does not have a rational basis. People who suffer from either condition also often feel as if they are about to pass out.

Similarities and Differences

Anxiety

  • A condition in which the patient exhibits somatic, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms
  • Can cause a considerable amount of worry, fear and dread, even without psychological stress factors present

Panic attacks

  • Refers to instances of intense fear or apprehension that occur suddenly
  • Often last for only relatively short periods, although they may last anywhere from 15 seconds to several hours

Which stress condition is more common?
  • Anxiety
  • Panic Attacks
 
 

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