Published on 27 September 2022

Anxiety Attack vs Panic Attack: Know The Difference

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When it comes to anxiety and panic attacks, there can be some confusion about the difference between them. An anxiety attack is usually a prolonged period of intense fear or worry, which can cause physical symptoms like chest pain, accelerated heart rate, shallow breathing, and feeling overwhelmed due to all the built-up tension in your body. 

A panic attack is more sudden and intense than an anxiety attack and will often come "out of the blue." It causes you to feel like something terrible will happen, even though it's just a feeling. 

Both are enormously disruptive, yet while they can be highly frightening experiences, they generally pass quickly once you've taken some steps to manage them. Let's look at these a little closer to discover the difference.

What Are Anxiety Attacks?

It is a sudden and intense episode of fear and Anxiety. In some cases, anxiety attacks are linked with specific triggers, but they may also appear without any particular reason. A person with anxiety disorder can struggle to breathe, sleep, stay still, and concentrate. 

Causes of Anxiety Attacks 

In most cases, anxiety attacks have more than one cause, but several factors play a crucial role simultaneously. For example, an anxiety attack might come when you haven't had rest for a week, have excessive tea or coffee, and have a tremendous workload simultaneously. Often, specific life stressors are also a cause of anxiety attacks. These may include

  • Financial stress,
  • Job or relationship stress
  • An upsetting health diagnosis
  • Life transitions and identity crises
  • Social Anxiety,
  • Stress about world events,
  • Having a history of mental illnesses
  • Adversity or traumatic experiences
  • Having certain health conditions
  • Having a reserved or shy personality

Also, certain people seem to have an increased ability toward anxiety attacks. Some factors that may make you more prone to anxiety attacks include Genetics, Chemical imbalances, and a history of trauma or Post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD.

Symptoms of Anxiety Attack

Anxiety attacks can be a very intense experience impacting you physically. The Symptoms of an anxiety attack include:

  • Rapid heart rate, 
  • Shortness of breath, 
  • Sweating, 
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness, 
  • Trembling or shaking, 
  • Nausea or abdominal discomfort
  • Feeling detached from reality or feeling out of control.
  • Fearfulness and terror, 
  • Increased urination, 
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing on things
  • chest pain or a choking sensation.

An anxiety attack can last anywhere between 5-30 minutes. So if this occurs, try to contact your physician as soon as possible.

What Are Panic Attacks?

Panic attacks are a feeling of sudden and intense Anxiety. The person may experience physical symptoms, including shaking, dry mouth, disoriented, rapid and irregular heartbeats, nausea, breathlessness, sweating, and dizziness. Most panic attacks last from five minutes to half an hour.

Causes of Panic Attack 

The brain and nervous system play a significant role in perceiving and handling fear and Anxiety. There is an increased risk of having panic attacks if you have the following:

  • Family history: Panic disorders often run in families (Family Therapy).
  • Mental health issues: People with Anxiety disorders, depression, or other mental illnesses are more susceptible to panic attacks.
  • Substance Abuse problems: Alcoholism and drug addiction. 

Panic is considered to be the most severe form of Anxiety. People may avoid specific events or occasions because they fear triggering another attack. This can add to their sense of panic and may cause them to have more seizures.

Symptoms of Panic Attack 

Many people with panic disorder have markedly constrained lifestyles because they fear traveling any distance from home, which often leaves them unable to fulfill family responsibilities, career functions, and social obligations. Since it occurs suddenly, there's no way to stop a panic attack after it starts. 

According to doctors, people who are more sensitive in responding to fear may experience panic attacks than others. There is a connection between panic attacks and phobias, for example, school phobia or claustrophobia. One more theory explains that panic disorder may come from an over-sensitivity to carbon dioxide, which makes the brain think you're suffocating.

When you experience high-stress levels due to certain problematic situations, it may trigger a panic attack. It is believed there are ties between panic attacks and:

  • Depression,
  • Alcohol Abuse,
  • Cigarette smoking,
  • Suicide risk

Treatment for Panic Attacks

Psychotherapy, medications, or a combination of both conclusively stop panic attacks. How long a person needs to take a treatment depends on the severity of the problem and the response given to the treatment. Options include:

Treatment for Anxiety Attacks

Different treatments are used to treat a diagnosed anxiety disorder. It will also help reduce general feelings of Anxiety as well. The following are some treatments that are used to treat Anxiety attacks.  


There is mainly two therapy used as a form of psychotherapy, congnitive behavioral therapy & Exposure therapy. 

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy involves identifying the automatic negative thought patterns associated with feelings of Anxiety. Once the client learns to identify them, it becomes easier to challenge and replace these thoughts.
  • Exposure therapy can be very effective when treating certain types of Anxiety, particularly phobias. Exposure therapy gradually exposes people to a feared object or situation and uses relaxation techniques. As they continue to do that, the source of their fear becomes less frightening.


Some medications can help treat symptoms of Anxiet, but these are prescription-based medicines. These include:

Natural Ways To Overcome Anxiety Attack

As many people think about how they can reduce the chances of getting anxiety attacks. Apart from medications or therapy, you can lower anxiety attacks with the help of the following techniques.

  • Stay active
  • Steer clear of alcohol
  • Consider quitting smoking 
  • Limit caffeine intake
  • Prioritize getting a good night's rest
  • Meditate and practice Mindfulness
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Practice deep breathing

Natural Ways To Overcome Panic Attacks

Identical to anxiety attacks, there are some techniques you should use to overcome a panic attack, which is as follows.

  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Relaxation exercises
  • Writing
  • Time management strategies
  • Aromatherapy
  • Cannabidiol oil
  • Herbal teas

Difference Between Anxiety Attacks & Panic Attacks

Anxiety Attacks Panic Attacks
Are often related to a stressful or threatening event. Often happen out of the blue and isn't always triggered by stress factors.
Build Gradually Come Suddenly
Physical symptoms: Less intense Physical symptoms: More intense
It Can be mild, moderate, or severe. Often severe symptoms and manifest disruptive symptoms.

Similarities Between Anxiety Attacks and Panic Attacks

Anxiety and panic attacks can be similar and have many similarities. Both involve intense physical symptoms such as dizziness, chest pain, difficulty breathing, sweating, trembling, and an increased heart rate. In both types of attacks, the individual may think they have a medical emergency and may avoid situations that could trigger the episode or make it worse. 

Additionally, Anxiety and panic are forms of extreme fear or stress that specific triggers like stressful events or environments can spark. The main difference is that Anxiety is generally more prolonged, while a panic attack resolves more quickly.

Self-Help Strategies

It's always better to care for your physical and mental health independently. It usually increases the strength in yourself to cope with any problem. 

For Anxiety Attacks

It's essential to recognize your physical symptoms, like tightening of the chest, shallow breathing, and psychological reactions, such as racing thoughts or rumination. Identifying these reactions can be an essential cue to step back and pause to self-regulate. 

Simple Mindfulness exercises such as paying attention to your breath or stepping outside for fresh air can help you regain control of anxious feelings. Additionally, relaxing activities such as yoga and stretching can promote relaxation. Speaking with a friend or family member about what is happening further helps reduce the intensity of anxiety symptoms.

For Panic Attack

Self-help strategies for panic attacks can be beneficial in providing relief and reducing your risk of having a seizure. One way to address panic attacks is by engaging in calming activities such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation, which helps relax both the body and mind. 

Regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle are also important, as they can help reduce stress levels. Positive self-talk and refocusing on your surroundings rather than giving in to negative thoughts can increase your positivity toward life.

Seeking out social support should not be overlooked either; talking to friends or family members about how you feel can provide a welcome respite from Anxiety or fear.


Bottom Line From Practical Anxiety Solutions 

It is accepted to be scared of certain situations or life events. People often get anxious during stressful situations, which is a natural response. But there are techniques like relaxation, meditation, and daily exercises like walking and stretching, which can be helpful. Following some activities is necessary to stay healthy and fit and minimize the risk of anxiety and panic attacks.

Psychotherapy, CBT, and Exposure therapy treat anxiety and panic attacks. In severe cases, the client must take medications along with the treatment plan.
If your loved ones are experiencing the symptoms of these attacks mentioned above, don't hesitate to contact a counselor or a psychiatrist instantly.

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