What’s the difference between a panic attack and an anxiety attack - ADHD and Anxiety Disorder

The terms panic attack and anxiety attack are often used by people interchangeably because they share some symptoms. So in this article, we will be comparing the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment of each condition. If you are looking for more information about Adhd and Anxiety Disorder we're your option.

Panic attacks vs. anxiety attacks: what are they?

Panic attacks can be classified as an expected panic attack or an unexpected panic attack. Expected panic attacks are cued by a traumatic event or other external stressors. While unexpected panic attacks occur even when there is no real danger or any apparent cause. On the other hand, an anxiety attack is usually less severe than a panic attack and develops gradually when a person feels anxious due to a specific trigger, such as workplace issues, relationship problems, health issues, etc. Generally, the signs and symptoms of a panic attack reach their peak within 10 minutes and would rarely last for an hour. Whereas, the symptoms of an anxiety attack may persist for days, weeks, or even months.

Difference in Symptoms

Listed below are the symptoms of a panic attack

  • excessive sweating

  • chills or hot flashes

  • uncontrollable shaking

  • stomach pain and nausea

  • pounding or racing heartbeat

  • lightheadedness or dizziness

  • shortness of breath or dyspnea

  • the sudden surge of fear of dying

  • the feeling of detachment from surroundings

Listed below are the symptoms of an anxiety attack:

  • faster breathing

  • serious sleep issues

  • fear and restlessness

  • muscle pain or numbness

  • the feeling of being smothered

  • have a hard time concentrating

  • the feeling of distress and worry

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Difference in Causes

The key characteristic that distinguishes the two is that panic attacks generally come on out of the blue, while anxiety attacks are triggered by numerous mental health conditions. However, in some instances, both conditions can be triggered by memories of past traumas, chronic conditions, external stresses, and various phobias.

Difference in Diagnosis

To help pinpoint a diagnosis for a panic attack, the patient would be needing to undergo a complete physical exam, blood tests to check other possible conditions, and a psychological evaluation to talk about the symptoms. The medical professional may also require the patient to fill out a psychological questionnaire or self-assessment for a more accurate diagnosis.

On the other hand, the diagnosis for an anxiety attack may include a physical exam to determine an underlying condition, urine or blood tests, questions about the patient's medical history, and psychological questionnaires to help the doctor determine which treatment works best for the patient.

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Difference in Treatment

Depending on the severity of the panic attack, the patient may undergo psychotherapy and medications to reduce the frequency and intensity of their panic attacks as prescribed by a therapist who has received special training in treating panic disorders. Conversely, the specific treatment approach for anxiety attacks heavily depends on the type of anxiety disorder they have. However, the main treatment options would be therapy, medication, or the combination of the two.

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While both conditions may be often used interchangeably, a panic attack tends to be more intense than an anxiety attack. So it is important to seek advice from a medical professional or a mental health specialist. If you want to feel like your in the best possible care, then you need to check out Harry Verby, M.D. Behavioral: Medical Clinic. With a huge track record of patient success and satisfaction, there’s no better call to make.

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