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Panic Attacks Vs Anxiety Attack - The Key Differences You Need to Know
Have you ever experienced symptoms that felt like a panic attack while also dealing with anxiety? It can be confusing to differentiate between the two. In this article, we'll take a deep dive into both anxiety attacks and panic attacks, finding out their distinctions and helping you understand when each comes into play.
A panic attack is a sudden and intense episode of fear or discomfort that reaches its peak within minutes. It is accompanied by various physical and cognitive symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, trembling, sweating, and a sense of impending doom or loss of control. Panic attacks can occur unexpectedly or in response to a trigger. They are usually brief but can be extremely distressing.
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The term "anxiety attack" is not a clinical term used in the official diagnostic criteria. It is often used interchangeably with a panic attack, leading to confusion. Some people may use "anxiety attack" to describe a severe episode of anxiety or heightened anxiety symptoms. However, it is important to note that anxiety attacks are not recognized as a distinct clinical term or diagnosis in the mental health field.
The conditions include:
Feeling restless or unable to stay still
Headaches, backache or other aches and pains
Rapid or accelerated breathing
Irregular and pounding heartbeat
Sweating or hot flushes
Grinding your teeth, particularly during nighttime
Difference between Panic Attack and Anxiety Attack
The term "anxiety attack" is not officially recognized in the diagnostic criteria. Anxiety is quite a shape-shifter. It ranges from a little bit of nervousness to full-blown panic attacks. Panic attack is well-defined and are a key feature of panic disorder, characterized by a sudden surge of intense fear or discomfort and specific symptoms, as mentioned above.
While anxiety can manifest as a range of symptoms, including physical and cognitive symptoms, it does not have a specific pattern or time limit like panic attacks. Anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), or specific phobias, involve excessive and persistent worry or fear about various aspects of life or specific situations.
If you have the struggles on anxiety, it's important to consult with a mental health professional for an accurate diagnosis and to make the link between manifestations and what's going on inside your head.