The difference between a panic attack and an anxiety attack

If you suffer with anxiety, you’ve most likely experienced either a panic attack or an anxiety attack, but which one, do you know the difference?

For years I’ve suffered with what I thought was panic attacks, and don’t get me wrong, some of the time they are, but for the majority of the time I have and still do suffer with anxiety attacks.

So what’s the difference?

Panic attacks- Panic attacks often mirror symptoms of a heart attack, they come on very suddenly and are extremely intense. Chest pains, a feeling that the walls are closing in and the genuine feeling that you are dying are all symptoms of a panic attack. They are extremely physically and emotionally debilitating and you may need time to recover afterwards.

Anxiety attacks- Anxiety attacks have very similar, if not the same symptoms, however they are less intense, they happen gradually and happen over a longer duration of time. I sometimes experience anxiety attack’s for hours on end. I describe them as the feeling that you have something sat on your chest, you can’t get your breath, but you carry on your day, and a panic attack never quite erupts. I actually find anxiety attack’s more draining as they happen for long periods of time, and it feels like you are fighting in a losing battle each and every second.

So, there’s the difference. Panic attacks are quick, sudden and intense. Whereas, anxiety attacks happen gradually, are less intense but can last for a much longer duration, sometimes lasting for hours.

Both anxiety and panic attack’s can be treated in the same way. Often through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), talking therapy or in some cases exposure therapy (ERP). If you do struggle with either panic disorder or anxiety, you will find lots of tips on my page, however if you feel you need further support, don’t hesitate to speak to a professional.

To find more information about panic attacks, visit the NHS website ‘Panic attacks’ page. Linked here-

Thank you for reading, take care and keep shining, even on the days when it’s hard too.

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