Anxiety Attack Vs Panic Attack

Anxiety Attack Vs Panic Attack

This article puts down points to help you compare between anxiety attack and panic attack. Know what these conditions share in common, and what differentiates them from each other.
PsycholoGenie Staff
In most instances the condition of panic attack has been interchangeably used with anxiety attack. To be precise, both these terms refer to one single condition. So this article instead of putting the facts on what is the difference between anxiety and panic attacks, it would differentiate panic attack from what is known as generalized anxiety disorder, hoping this would make much more sense.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder Vs Panic Attack
Panic Attack
As the name suggests, this condition comes suddenly to the person, and without any warning, and with no reason. This sudden episode of panic induces a jolt of intense fear in the patient. And the worse part is, it develops for no apparent reason. In response to this attack, several physical reactions may occur in the body. Most often, people who have had this terrible experience, are usually with a view that during the attack they had felt as if they are losing control of themselves, or are about to die. Now, such attacks may also lead to chronic panic disorder, if they start occurring frequently or if the person may start avoiding places or situations because of the fear of another attack.

Symptoms:
  • Heart pounding
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Panting or shortness of breath
  • Rapid pulse
  • Feeling as if death is near at that moment
  • Shaking body
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Dizziness, accompanied by headache
  • Pain and tightness in the chest
  • Cramps in the abdomen
  • Near fainting
  • Chills
  • Difficulty in swallowing food or fluids
  • Terrorized feeling
  • Tingling in various parts of the body
  • Hot flashes
Causes:

Panic attack is considered to be an idiopathic medical issue. Meaning, doctors have not been able to determine the causes of this psychological condition. However, factors that may contribute or play as the triggering elements may include genetics, stressful events, and also certain changes in the chemicals in the brain (neurotransmitters).

Treatment:

Proper treatment when initiated at an early stage does help in minimizing or eliminating the symptoms. Medications and psychotherapy are the mainly included in the panic attack treatment to help people resume their everyday activities. Several kinds of drugs may be prescribed to the patient. The doctor may also advice the use of a combination of medications if the patient is also suffering from panic disorder (as mentioned above). Psychotherapy is another essential part of the treatment. What it does is, it mainly focuses in bringing a healthy change in the attitude of the affected person, by helping him understand how to replace negative thoughts with constructive ones. Also, sessions of counseling greatly help the patient to realize what may trigger the panic attack in him, and how to cope with or avoid all such factors. Breathing and relaxation techniques are also involved in the treatment program.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
As the name suggests, this condition is associated with the affected person's feeling of anxiousness. Anxiety is a part of everyone's day-to-day life, and is associated with all possible events and instances. This kind of feeling is dominant in people who often lead a stressful life. However, this same feeling might raise serious concerns and worries, if it begins to jeopardize day-to-day activities and relationships with others. When a person is so wrapped up with anxiety that he finds no way out for enjoying life, then it is most likely that he may be suffering from the condition of generalized anxiety disorder.

Symptoms:
  • The most important symptom that might come to notice is the person's overanxious behavior about certain things, which might be anything from petty to large concerns
  • Another symptom that may indicate the development of this anxiety disorder is a constant state of restlessness. The person may always be in an agitated state, and hardly can be seen in a relaxed state of mind
  • Poor concentration, absentmindedness
  • Irritability, and fatigue
  • Physical symptoms such as tension building up in the muscles, and muscle aches
  • Insomnia, difficulty in breathing, profuse sweating, and nausea could be the other symptoms
Causes:

Factors that are responsible for this condition to develop in people, are still an unidentified entity. Experts assume that, perhaps, environmental conditions, and certain abnormal changes in the brain chemicals may have something to contribute in the development of this condition.

Treatment:

And about the treatment, it is basically a combined effort of medications, and more importantly, psychotherapy. Under medications, there may be several types of them that may be used to manage the symptoms and minimize the severity of the conditions. And psychotherapy is essentially a period of counseling sessions that the patient joins in with a psychotherapist. Counseling is more important that medications, because it tries to treat the core problems that are triggering such a serious kind of anxiety. The counselor discusses various underlying stressful factors in the patient's life, ways to cope with such factors, and certain behavior changes.
What we can infer from the above explanation is, both anxiety attack and generalized anxiety disorder somewhat reconcile with each other in terms of their symptoms, causes and treatment.