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What are anxiety and panic attacks?

Anxiety, Panic, Mental health. Lifestyle

According to a report of ‘Rebooting 2020: A Story of COVID-19 and Shifting Perceptions’ survey by Mavericks India, sixty-one per cent of Indians are experiencing mental-health-related issues during this lockdown. We might ignore mental health issues as if they don’t exist, but ignoring them has consequences. Slowly, your tiny mental health issues can grow and hamper your daily life. Anxiety is one such issue. Being anxious when you have something problematic or fearing is normal. But it is very important to know the level of what’s normal and what’s not.

What is an anxiety ?

Anxiety is a non-medical term that is a sensation or feeling of fear of something bad about to happen. Feeling you get when you are worrying or fearing about something particular. Anxiety is associated with stress. Hence, it causes physical symptoms like muscle tension too.

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Are panic and anxiety attacks same?

People usually think that both of these terms are interchangeable, but that’s not the case.

An anxiety attack takes place when there is something particular triggering the person. The majority of the times anxiety takes place due to some event or situation. Though, this is not the case always.

Whereas on the other hand, a panic attack can happen without any particular reason or situation going on currently. Plus the symptoms and effects of a panic attack are much more severe than an anxiety attack. Anxiety can be a part of panic disorder. Hence, a person suffering from panic disorder may experience sudden and short anxiety episodes randomly without any reason. In short, anxiety is a part of panic disorder, but panic attacks not necessarily be a part of anxiety or anxiety attacks.

Constant anxiety and stress can be a problem in the future.

Difference in causes and effects

Anyone needs to know that what they are going through. So here are some points on which you can distinguish between a panic and anxiety attacK

Anxiety or Anxiety attack:

  • There may be some particular reasons like exam fear, workplace issue, workload, relationship tensions, health issues, etc.
  • It is not a condition that can be diagnosed.
  • Anxiety is much less severe than a panic attack
  • It develops gradually when a person starts feeling anxious.
  • Physical symptoms may include racing heartbeat, stomach ache, muscle pain, etc.

A Panic Attack :

  • A panic attack need not have any specific triggering point or incident.
  • They can be a symptom of panic disorder and this can be diagnosed
  • Symptoms of a panic attack are much severe than that of an anxiety attack
  • Can hit anyone even if that person was feeling calm minutes ago
  • A panic attack involves physical symptoms and a very strong feeling of terror that a person might feel like dying or loss of control.
  • A panic attack can occur suddenly and unexpectedly. Usually, it lasts for some minutes or an hour, followed by some negative impacts.

The term “anxiety attack” is not listed in the American Psychological Association’s (APA’s) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5th Edition (DSM-V)

Though a panic attack is listed as a symptom of panic disorder. in the DSM-V. Only a licensed professional can diagnose panic disorder.

Symptoms of an anxiety and panic attack

Both kinds of attacks usually involve fastened heartbeat, fear, lightheadedness, chest pain, difficulty breathing, and irrational thoughts.

Though, in a panic attack, these symptoms are much more severe. Severe to an extent that a person might feel that he or she is going to die, faint or lose control over themselves.

Whereas, in an anxiety attack a person may feel the same symptoms but at a lower level where he or she is aware and in senses.

Most common and starting symptoms include

  • worry and apprehension
  • restlessness
  • sleep problems
  • difficulty concentrating
  • irritability
  • sadness
  • feeling pressure and hurried

Physical symptoms include-

  • changes in heart rate
  • tension in the head or neck
  • headache
  • nausea or diarrhea
  • sweating
  • dry mouth
  • tightness in the throat and difficulty breathing
  • trembling or shaking
  • feeling faint

All these symptoms belong to anxiety and panic attacks. It’s just the level that differs. Also, a person in a panic attack is in more danger as he feels like losing control or dying.

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How they start?

An anxiety attack majorly hits a person due to fear of something bad happening in a particular situation. This means there is a specific subject that is creating a sense of fear in that person. It tends to develop gradually over time. It can be mild, moderate, or severe. There may be a sense that it can be over once that particular problem is solved.

On the other hand, A panic attack needs no triggering point to start. Though when a person is suffering from panic disorder, any small or big problematic situation or thing can trigger anxiety and that anxiety can easily lead to a panic attack. But even if the person is calm, he/she might get hit by a panic attack. A panic attack can happen without a warning and you can’t prevent it. A panic attack can occur even if the person feels calm, anxious or even during sleep. In fact, according to the APA, the reaction is unrelated to the situation.

For how long they last?

As anxiety is developed over a situation, it may stay until that situation is solved. Hence, anxiety occurs for a particular period of time.

Whereas a panic attack starts suddenly. It takes around 10 minutes for symptoms to show and build and then it can last for around 30 minutes or an hour. But a panic attack always has some after-effects like feeling numb, tired, muscle pain etc. Though people with constant anxiety can have panic attacks too.

Can anxiety leads to panic attacks?

The answer is yes. Constant anxiety can lead to panic attacks. If a person is surrounded by many problems or triggering situations one after the other, the constant anxiety builds up. It starts being severe and then a person may experience panic attacks. And once panic attacks start hitting you, problems need not be a base.

The fear of having a panic attack can affect the person’s behaviour and ability to function in daily life.


Due to anxiety and panic attacks, the level of adrenaline increases in our bodies. A sudden release of this hormone prepares the body to flee from danger or to confront the danger physically

Though, under normal conditions, the level of adrenaline normalizes once the fear gets over. But if anxiety continues and panic attacks make a chain then it’s very difficult to control it.

Constant anxiety can cause:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety Disorder

Physical problems that can arise

  • frequent colds and infections
  • heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes

It is important to share or get treatment when you feel that anxiety is making room in your daily life. Ongoing stress has been linked to problems with the immune, digestive, sleep, and reproductive systems.

Treatment for anxiety

Treatment available for severe anxiety are:

  • cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • medications, such as some types of antidepressants
  • support groups for people with specific conditions

Anyone who feels constantly anxious should consult a doctor. Getting help on time may help you to stop the severe consequence in future. Make sure when you seek help, it is from a qualified person. If you feel difficulty in directly visiting a doctor, do at least try to share it with your close ones. The sense of loneliness can increase the impact of anxiety disorder or panic disorder on your health.

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