Panic Attack Vs Anxiety Attack
Panic attacks and anxiety attacks share similarities but are ultimately two different things. The main differences are:
- How quickly it happens. According to Ramneet, panic attacks come up without warning and are a lot more sudden. In comparison, an anxiety attack develops gradually over time.
- Why it happens. Panic attacks often happen without an identifiable trigger or reason. In comparison, anxiety attacks usually happen in response to a specific event in the future.
- Severity of symptoms. The physical symptoms of a panic attack are much more intense. Another difference is that someone experiencing a panic attack will normally feel intense fear, fear of dying, or a sense of detachment. These are not typical symptoms of an anxiety attack.
Both of these experiences can be troubling and difficult to deal with. If you suffer from frequent panic attacks, you should consider visiting a mental health professional so you can receive professional help. You should also consider therapy if you suffer from intense bouts of anxiety but in the meantime, you can learn strategies to help you cope in the future.
We asked Ramneet for her top recommendations on how to stop an anxiety attack.
Manage Stress By Changing Your Habits
Keeping your bodys stress in check will prevent you from experiencing involuntary anxiety attacks. You will also be able to increase the amount of control you have over your bodys reactions to perceived threats when stress is minimized.
For example, when you experience something that at first seems very threatening, if your overall stress level is low, you will have the capacity to recognize if the stimulus is actually a threat or if it is just your anxiety acting up.
If your stress level is constantly elevated, your body is more likely to act involuntarily, which can decrease your control over your mental and physical capacities. This means that you may not be able to recognize that a stimulus actually poses no threat to your safety, and therefore experience unnecessary anxiety in its presence. You can greatly decrease your stress .
To stay on track on developing good habits, you can create SMART goals that will help you alleviate your anxiety.
Talk To A Therapist With Experience In Anxiety Attacks
People often fear the worst when they’re having an anxiety attack. Most of the time, theres no underlying physical problem, such as a real heart attack. But you should get the medical all clear if you have repeat anxiety attacks, just to be sure you dont need additional treatment. Then find a cognitive behavioral therapist with experience treating anxiety to help you through.
Read Also: How To End Anxiety Forever
Recognize That Youre Having A Panic Attack
Take away the fear that you may be dying or that impending doom is looming, both symptoms of panic attacks. This can allow you to focus on other techniques to reduce your symptoms.
It is not always possible to avoid triggers for a panic attack, but if you know what triggers it, this can help you understand that it is a panic attack and not something else.
Tips To Help You Sleep Better Starting Tonight
Also note that there’s a difference between an anxiety attack and a panic attack. A panic attack is clearly defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders, while an anxiety attack is not.
One of the biggest differences between the two is that panic attacks often occur without warning and may be triggered by an external fear, such as a phobia you come into contact with, but panic attacks can occur without any triggers. Anxiety attacks, on the other hand, often build over time and are often triggered by an internal fear or feeling of doom, such as what might happen when thinking about the coronavirus pandemic.
The lack of diagnostic criteria doesn’t make anxiety attacks invalid it just means that symptoms are more open to interpretation and that there’s an opportunity to uncover anxiety-inducing triggers.
With that, here’s how to tell if you’re having an anxiety attack and how to stop or control it.
Read more: How to calm anxiety in social settings
Recommended Reading: How To Reduce Anxiety Long Term
Tips To Manage Anxiety And Stress
Try these when you’re feeling anxious or stressed:
Fitness Tips: Stay Healthy, Manage Stress
For the biggest benefits of exercise, try to include at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity physical activity each week, 1¼ hours of a vigorous-intensity activity , or a combination of the two.
- 5 X 30: Jog, walk, bike, or dance three to five times a week for 30 minutes.
- Set small daily goals and aim for daily consistency rather than perfect workouts. It’s better to walk every day for 15-20 minutes than to wait until the weekend for a three-hour fitness marathon. Lots of scientific data suggests that frequency is most important.
- Find forms of exercise that are fun or enjoyable. Extroverted people often like classes and group activities. People who are more introverted often prefer solo pursuits.
- Distract yourself with an iPod or other portable media player to download audiobooks, podcasts, or music. Many people find its more fun to exercise while listening to something they enjoy.
- Recruit an exercise buddy. It’s often easier to stick to your exercise routine when you have to stay committed to a friend, partner, or colleague.
- Be patient when you start a new exercise program. Most sedentary people require about four to eight weeks to feel coordinated and sufficiently in shape so that exercise feels easier.
If you are the parent of a college-aged child with an anxiety disorder, here are some tips to help with managing his or her anxiety.
Understand Anxiety Attacks And That You Can Stop Them Anytime You Want
Knowledge is powerand especially when it comes to understanding anxiety and anxiety attacks. The more you know, the better off you are.
For instance, understanding the physiological, psychological, and emotional components that contribute to anxiety attacks can remove the mystery about them and what they can do. Removing the mystery can eliminate the potential to scare you.
When you understand what anxiety attacks are what causes them how the body responds – the many physiological, psychological, and emotional changes that can occur and why the stages of the stress response how stress affects the body and how you can stop them anytime you want eliminates their threat. Eliminating the threat eliminates a struggle with anxiety attacks.
Becoming unafraid of anxiety attacks is the surest way to stop and prevent them. Again, for more information, see our anxiety attack symptoms section, or for more in-depth information, become a member of our Recovery Support area.
Don’t Miss: How To Fix Performance Anxiety
Stopping Panic: What To Do When Youre Having A Panic Attack
Here, some strategies that have worked for others that may help you:
Why Do Panic Attacks Happen
Before we talk about what you can do to stop a panic attack, it is important to talk about some of the basics. Understanding what a panic attack actually is and why it happens may help you more easily accept your struggles as they come.
Anxiety happens when you are under stress, feeling tension, having worrisome thoughts, or experiencing certain physical symptoms like heart palpitations, shortness of breath, or feelings of being detached from oneself.
The worries associated with anxiety can be about really anything, including school, work, friends, family, or relationships. While some degree of anxiety and worry is a normal part of everyday life, persistent symptoms may indicate an anxiety disorder.
More intense physical manifestations of anxiety are considered panic attacks, and an attack can last for several minutes or even several hours.
The specific symptoms that a person experiences during a panic attack can vary, and in fact, different people may experience entirely different symptoms. No two people are exactly the same, and panic attacks can manifest in many different ways.
Some common symptoms associated with a panic attack include:
- Heart palpitations
- Fear of losing control
- Fear of dying
Panic attacks typically begin suddenly, without warning and they can strike at any time. You may have occasional panic attacks, or they may occur frequently. If you have recurring panic attacks and worry about future panic attacks, you may have panic disorder.
You May Like: How To Become Anxiety Free
Need A Therapist In Toronto
If you suffer from intense anxiety or anxiety attacks, you might be hesitant to reach out and get help. But for many people, therapy is the turning point that allows them to take control of their life again.
A therapist will provide you with one-on-one counselling to understand the struggles youre going through. Theyll listen, support you, and recommend strategies you can implement outside of the therapy room. At HealthOne, our therapists offer counselling both in-person and virtually so you can speak with a therapist from the comfort of home.
Dealing with difficult emotions can be troubling, but just like the weather, they always pass. With the right tools in your toolkit, you can prepare yourself for even the scariest of storms. Some tools can be self-taught, like the strategies outlined in this blog post. Others can come from a trusted professional like Ramneet Lotay, our therapist in Toronto.
We hope these strategies are helpful and support you in living an inspired life.
One life. Live Inspired.
Learn How To Manage Your Anxious Thoughts
Anxiety doesn’t come out of the blue. When you have anxiety attacks, it’s often because your mind tends to spiral into negative thoughts – often without your control. Sometimes you can control this anxiety by keeping these thoughts at bay and learning to dismiss triggers that cause you anxiety.
For many, this is easier said than done. But there are many different strategies you can try that may be effective. These include:
A Question Checklist
When you feel anxious, have a checklist on hand of questions to ask yourself about that anxiety experience. The longer the checklist, the more you’ll find that your thoughts become more realistic. Questions that you can use include:
- Is there a reason to believe something is wrong?
- What evidence is there that something is wrong?
- Is there a chance I’m blowing this out of proportion?
Affirmations not for everyone, but those that do use them find them to be very beneficial. Affirmations are things that you say to yourself to make yourself feel better. These include:
- I’m okay. This is just anxiety and I will get passed this .
- I have a great life and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
- My anxiety won’t control me.
Getting Used to Physical Symptoms
The latter is known as “exposure therapy” and there are countless ways to create exercises that will habituate you to your panic attack triggers.
You May Like: What Is Good For Anxiety Over The Counter
What Is Hyperventilation
Even though your body needs oxygen to survive, and turns that oxygen into carbon dioxide when it’s been used up within the bloodstream, your body also expects a healthy amount of carbon dioxide in your circulatory system as well. Hyperventilation is the act of breathing either too quickly or incorrectly in such a way that you’re taking in too much oxygen while breathing out too much carbon dioxide.
Interestingly, during this time it may feel as though you’re not getting enough air, and your instinct may be to take deeper breaths. But by responding to that sensation by trying to take in more air, you’re actually making your hyperventilation worse, which is why those that try to get deeper breaths often feel their symptoms getting worse, causing further panic.
When there isn’t enough carbon dioxide in your blood, you experience the symptoms of an anxiety attack, including:
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness and more
Notice how each of these symptoms are the same as when you’re suffering from severe anxiety, which is why it often feels like an “attack” and why the symptoms feel so physical. They build on each other to create an experience that feels like something is terribly wrong.
The most likely cause of hyperventilation is breathing too quickly, which is a common response to anxiety. But it’s not the only cause either. You may also hyperventilate because:
Keep Your Eyes Closed
Sometimes, panic attacks are triggered by the stimuli in your immediate environment. Closing your eyes helps you block out an overwhelming sight, and allows you to focus on your breathing. During this time, try to practice mindfulness, and just pay attention to your breath and everything your body is feeling. Recognize that you have the power to regulate those reactions. Remind yourself that you are safe.
Also Check: How To Get Over Phone Anxiety
Could You Be Suffering From Panic Disorder
Take our 2-minute panic disorder test to see if you may benefit from further diagnosis and treatment.
During the day if she was out, the attack felt like my head suddenly weighed a thousand pounds and my chest would get really heavy. It literally felt like something was pulling me down. I would usually have to head home immediately. I would then experience foggy vision where itactually looked like there was fog in the air. I also experienced double vision and parts of my bodylike my neck or one arm or one entire side of my facewould go totally numb.
In addition to the emotional turmoil and the physical manifestations that Caroline and Kirstie describe panic attacks can cause palpitations, pounding heart or accelerated heart rate sweating trembling or shaking sensations of shortness of breath or smothering feelings of choking chest pain or discomfort nausea or abdominal distress feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed or faint chills or overheating numbness or tingling feelings of unreality or being detached from oneself fear of losing control or going crazy and fear of dying.
Isolated attacks are bad enough. But when the attacks recur in a short period of time or when the fear of another attack is so strong that you begin to avoid situations, places, and people that may trigger an attack, you may be diagnosed with panic disorder.