Sometimes, it’s hard to tell the difference between anxiety and a panic attack. Because of their similarities, people often use the terms interchangeably. Well, although both of them cause physical and emotional symptoms, anxiety is usually more persistent, while a panic attack lasts for a short while.
In this article, you’ll learn what anxiety and panic attacks are, their causes, and how to tell them apart. Let’s dive in!
Anxiety is an intense feeling of fear, discomfort, and worry. It’s the brain’s way of alerting the body about imminent danger; whether real or perceived.
When we’re exposed to potential danger, our brain interprets it to be more dangerous than it really is, causing anxiety. However, when laced with persistent worry and fear, anxiety can become intense.
Anxiety can be a result of worrying about everyday activities like getting late to work, getting robbed on the bus, or bigger events like illness or death.
Not everyone would experience the same symptoms when they are experiencing a bout of anxiety. Here are common physical and emotional symptoms of anxiety:
Anxiety can be caused by a variety of things or situations. They include a fear of the unknown, tension, extreme stress, constant worrying, genetics, and medical conditions like diabetes or heart disease.
A panic attack is a sudden feeling of intense fear that triggers physical reactions when there is no real threat. Unlike anxiety episodes, panic attacks occur suddenly, with or without a trigger.
Panic attacks are more severe than anxiety as they happen without any warning. Plus, they’re quite rude! Panic attacks can happen in the most unlikely places or situations, like in the middle of a date or during a bath. However, they last for a short time.
If you are experiencing a panic attack, you are likely to experience some of these symptoms:
There’s no known cause for panic attacks. That’s because the brain and nervous system are responsible for how it deals with fear, anxiety, and worry. But, you have a greater risk of experiencing panic attacks if:
Risk factors are things that increase your chances of developing an ailment. For anxiety and panic attacks, the risk factors are:
If you think you experience any of the symptoms of anxiety or panic attacks, you should reach out to a mental health professional for a proper diagnosis of panic attacks, panic disorders, anxiety disorders, and anxiety symptoms.
Note: Oftentimes, doctors are unable to safely diagnose anxiety attacks because anxiety takes many forms and can be a symptom of other health conditions. Hence, a complete physical examination is needed to diagnose anxiety.
To diagnose you accurately, your doctor may conduct:
Remember to be honest with your doctor and give them all the necessary information for an accurate diagnosis.
Depending on the severity of your anxiety or panic attacks, various treatments can work.
Now that you know the difference between anxiety and panic attacks, what should you do when you notice the symptoms? Seek professional help. Anxiety and panic attacks can be treated, even when they seem out of control. It’s just up to you to seek help in the right place.
At mytherapist.ng, our mental wellness experts are readily available to attend to you, answer your questions, and provide the help and support you need. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us!