The Difference Between Anxiety Attack Vs. Panic Attack.

As most of my readers are aware I suffer from OCD and Anxiety. I have suffered for over 35 years. With this in mind, I have decided to look into alternative therapy (hypnosis) to try and help myself and people like me.

Since the beginning of lockdown 2020, I have not ventured out of my home. All grocery is delivered and the nearest interaction I have with humans physically is when I have to meet and greet couriers or workmen and that suits me fine. I am the happiest and at home in my own environment.

I conduct all my business online and do not need to have face-to-face meetings.

However, this is more complicated and easier said than done. My friends are understanding and are happy to give me the space I need but my family on the other hand is another matter.

First off, someone said to me towards the beginning part of this year, that it was unhealthy of me to stay home 24/7 and that I should go up the road for 10 minutes each day.

I used to train ‘Muay Thai Kickboxing‘ and used to spend an hour at home exercising using DVDs before hitting the gym, so if I wanted to have any exercise I could in the comfort of my home without having to take the mindless waste of time walks as what was suggested. Besides standing outside waiting for delivery drivers gives me all the fresh air I need.

My time is better spent working and learning rather than walking up the road for no reason, I get my ten minutes each day waiting for the couriers as I cannot sprint down the stairs like I used to prior to having a vicious attack on my knee which left me unable to walk very far or down the stairs as easily as I used to be able to do.

However my extended family are the least bit interested in my explanations and are narrow-minded and simply think I am making excuses, how little do they know about my health or my life for that matter.

The other suggestion at the beginning part of this year was that once lockdown was lifted we should all meet up and go to dinner. I explained I have not had the vaccine jabs without going into any details about why I had not and cannot have the vaccine.

The response was if not for myself how about protecting the population to which I replied about herd immunity.

Yet the real reason why I cannot have the vaccines is that I have a PEG Allergy and cannot risk my health. I suffer from breathing difficulties from injectable steroids and penicillin as well as having severe allergic reactions to certain products and food. (This is all documented on my medical records) https://marketingagency.cymrumarketing.com/2021/03/19/polyethylene-glycol-peg-allergy-as-a-cause-of-anaphylaxis/

So because of this conversation, it then went on the grapevine that I do not go out, which has raised alarm bells amongst my closest family members.

Most do not bother with me and only talk to me at Christmas (small talk) yet they have my well-being at heart and concern themselves about my health, ironically, and think it is right to be judgemental of my actions.

Just because I have OCD does not make me insane, I am still in control of my faculties and can decide what is good for me and what is not. If I can write this post I am certainly an abled body person, just because my brain works differently does not make me less of a person or pitied upon.

I do not go out for a few reasons:

  1. I do not want to risk catching Covid as I am more susceptible of contracting it without being vaccinated.
  2. I have developed Social Anxiety and simply do not want to interact physically with other people.
  3. My OCD has got worse because I am more paranoid about germ contamination and have dedicated my life to beating this disease by researching neuroplasticity and hypnosis. I have already completed one course and will document my findings on www.ocd.cymru which I happen to own.
  4. I run a business I do not have spare time off to take off work, taking time off work means I have to pay someone to do my job. Since Lockdown I lost a lot of business so I am now trying to get back on my feet again. I have survived unlike businesses like Debenhams, Top Shop etc, so I am fortuante I have got a business.

None of this is taken into consideration or matters to my family (extended or otherwise) I feel my disability because it is invisible people make the assumptions that it is not real and they get on the superior high horse casting judgment.

Therefore in anticipation of what is about to transpire in the next week, I have been put on the spot and feel this is a test to see if I am simply making things up, I PREDICT I may have a PANIC ATTACK, seeing as I have ANXIETY ISSUES simply thinking about it.

I am so desperately trying to not work myself up as the day draws near.

So although I feel that some of my family means well in a certain capacity, because they do not know the full picture of my circumstances and some even live abroad and only see me every once in a while they do not fully comprehend my life, my health, or my work and simply do not understand.

I had one family member in South America asked when I was going to visit. The trip is not a taxi cab away and I have a business to run and the response I had was “so you can’t afford to come over then?” ……..automatically judging me.

In my defense, I cannot afford to catch Covid, my business is my baby and I will not let anything happen to it.

The sheer thought of going into the city and meeting my family member, mingling around strangers that may or may not be carrying the virus is causing me a great deal of anxiety and distress and this is in the UK never mind in some foreign country.

If I live to tell the tale unless and unless a miracle happens, Covid is eradicated, my Social Anxiety and OCD subsides, you will not see me venturing out again for a very long time after this unless I am cured of my disabilities and the virus has gone.

Anxiety vs Panic.

The terms anxiety attack vs. panic attack are often used interchangeably, but they have two they have very different meanings.

Anxiety is a prolonged build-up of worry but a panic attack is sudden. Whilst both have similar symptoms, there are definite distinctive differences between the two and the length of time one suffers. They also may differ in how they are triggered, and how they are treated.

Although there are similarities between the two, we need to fully comprehend the difference, as well, such as analyze risk factors, physical symptoms, and how to treat an attack, so that you can accurately document symptoms and problems to your doctor.

Both conditions are treated differently, so it is important to diagnose whether you are having anxiety attacks or panic attacks.

Early Signs and Symptoms

One of the main differences between anxiety attacks vs. panic attacks is how they start.

An anxiety attack usually has a gradual or prolonged onset. Just as I am experiencing now the simple thought of seeing one of my family members is causing me great anxiety and distress.

If I have not hugged or touched my daughter for the last 10 years imagine having to physically interact with a close relative in the midst of the Covid Pandemic, without offending them.

Other symptoms of anxiety usually precede it. It is also usually caused by a specific situation that can be narrowed down as the cause of the anxiety attack.

However, panic attacks are not obvious and come on spontaneously. They have an immediate onset, usually out of the blue, with no gradual build-up.

These types of attacks can come on without warning, regardless of the situation going on around you. Usually, it is a trigger to a response. Similarly, if I had a call out of the blue that I had to go out of my comfort zone I would most probably have a panic attack.

Sometimes an anxiety attack may turn into a panic attack especially if there has been a gradual build-up as in my case. The body is already in defense mode and is simply waiting for a trigger.

Symptoms

There are some similarities in the symptoms between anxiety attack vs. panic attack. While the physical symptoms are remarkably similar, they can vary in intensified intrusive thoughts and feelings between the two types of attacks. Anxiety attacks come with more prolonged thought than panic attacks which are sudden.

Anxiety Attack

Anxieties are gradual feelings of apprehension or worry, distress, restlessness, or fear. These symptoms usually start before the actual attack and persist long after the attack is over.

Panic Attack

Panic attacks are sudden, you may have similar symptoms as an anxiety attack but these symptoms are more intensified. With a panic attack, you may feel you are gasping for air or feel light-headed and want to be sick or you may experience a debilitating fear and a feeling of being afraid of losing control and everything is caving in around you. You may even have physical symptoms of the attack that may make you feel as though you are about to die.

Panic attacks also tend to come with a feeling of detachment from the world around you, called derealization, or detachment from yourself, called depersonalization. A panic attack may cause you to distance yourself from everything and everyone.

Physical Symptoms Of Both

The physical symptoms of anxiety attack vs. panic attack are the same. The difference here is in the intensity. One study found that anxiety attacks in which a specific situation or stimuli perpetuated the attack held stronger, more intense physical symptoms than panic attacks that came on out of the blue.

The most common physical symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks are:

  • Heart Racing/Palpitations
  • Feeling Faint, Dizziness/lightheadedness
  • Feeling Sick, Nausea
  • Tightness of the Chest and Chest pain
  • Feeling Hot and Sweating
  • Gasping for Air, Shortness of breath

Other symptoms that may occur with anxiety and panic attacks include:

  • Finding it hard to swallow, tightness in the throat, feeling as though you are choking
  • Uncontrolable Shuddering and Trembling or Shaking
  • Pins and Needles, Numbness or tingling
  • A headache with an onset of a Migraine

Physical symptoms can be similar with both anxiety or panic attacks in equal measure. However, the symptoms could be more intense and last longer with anxiety attacks, because they are situational. If the situation persists, the attack could last quite some time.

Differences In Duration

With Anxiety, the duration can be days, weeks, or months and there are distinct differences between anxiety attacks vs. panic attacks. A panic attack is sudden and comes on out of the blue and lasts only about an average of ten minutes, symptoms quickly dissipate after the attack is over.

With anxiety, the attack is likely to last until the situation changes, or you are removed from the situation. Symptoms of the anxiety attack, such as restlessness, worry, and distress, could last for some time after the anxiety attack is over.

Triggers

Anxiety is the manifestation of your negative thoughts that fester in your mind. There are also differences in triggers between anxiety attacks vs. panic attacks. The exact causes or triggers of panic attacks depend on what you fear most and what is worrying you. They are sudden and may start with no discernable cause. It could be stage fright or being forced into an uncomfortable situation out of your comfort zone.

Anything can trigger a panic attack based on your fears. It is sometimes hard to determine the cause of panic attacks, although people who have certain fears and worry about certain situations may experience panic attacks when their worries start to materialize.

With anxiety attacks, the triggers depend on the situation someone is in. People with extreme social disconnection disorders may have an anxiety attack when faced with a crowd of people.

Someone who is afraid of spiders may freak out if they see one and will not go back into a room until the spider has gone. People who have a phobia of closed spaces might have an anxiety attack in a small elevator. People afraid of needs may refuse to have a vaccine. Someone who has dental anxiety might have an anxiety attack at the dentist.

People cope with anxiety and fears in different ways. Some smoke, cigarette, drink alcohol, or take prescribed or recreational drugs. So use sex as a way of release and maybe promiscuous.

There are many possible triggers for anxiety attacks. It depends on the person’s tolerance threshold of their fears. Different people have different fears, phobias, and levels of comfort with different situations. The things that trigger one person may be very different from the things that may trigger someone else.

Risk Factors For Both

It is not entirely known what causes anxiety and panic attacks. However fear is a contributing factor. The risk factors of anxiety attack vs. panic attack are the same. If you have these risk factors, you are more likely to have anxiety attacks or panic attacks. Some common denominators have been noted over time in various studies as follows:

  • Trauma
  • Shock
  • Distress
  • Stress
  • Grief
  • Fear
  • Worries
  • Chronic health condition
  • Mental health disorder
  • Family history of anxiety or panic disorders
  • Alcohol and Drug Abuse

Differences In Treatment

Anxiety Attacks

Anxiety attacks are often treated as a symptom and can be treated with medication, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and hypnosis. Cognitive-behavioral therapy works in managing anxiety attacks and other mental health disorders and can help stop the gradual onset of the anxiety attack.

Panic Attacks

Panic attacks must be treated differently. Because they may be less frequent and can often not be predicted.

Therapy can be a helpful way to learn how to manage panic attacks. Therapy can help a person deal with a panic attack a little bit better if they are prepared in advance and know what to do.

What To Do If You Have An Attack

When you feel an attack coming on take slow deep breaths. Focus on your breathing and don’t allow it to quicken. It is also important to stay focus and not panic, try to control the situation with your thoughts and your breathing. Tell yourself the symptoms will pass, but you need to stay calm.

You can also use self-hypnosis relaxation techniques to help you get through the attack. Visualize a tranquil safe place and put all your negative thoughts and burn them in your mind.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What does an anxiety attack feel like?

According to the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), symptoms of an anxiety attack or panic attack might include the following:

  • An intense fear, discomfort, or dread
  • Heart racing/palpitations or feeling like the heart is pounding
  • Feeeling Sick
  • Difficulty breathing, gasping for air, shortness of breath
  • Shaking uncontrolably, sweating trembling or hot flashes
  • Feeling faint, light headed with the room spinning.
  • Pins and needles, numbness or tingling
  • Dissociation and disconnection
  • Muscle Tension
  • Temperament Changes
  • Mood Swings
  • Tolerance Levels Changing
  • Anger Issues
  • Crying

The sudden, intense panic attack symptoms often mimic the fight or flight response; the brain may perceive a threat even when there isn’t one. I have had such attacks in the past and where I was either out of my comfort zone or was in danger, I started to panic.

Can an anxiety attack turn into a panic attack?

You’ve likely heard the terms anxiety attack and panic attack used interchangeably. Though similar and interconnected in many ways, anxiety attacks and panic attacks are not the same. 

Chronic anxiety can lead to anxiety attacks or states of heightened anxiety. Heightened anxiety leaves you feeling more vulnerable, so it’s not uncommon for panic attacks to evolve from this sort of emotional state.

How long do panic attacks last?

Panic attacks depend from person to person and generally last 5-20 minutes, although it has been known it can last hours or more.

How do you calm a panic attack?

There are several ways of dealing with panic disorder symptoms or a panic attack, these include deep breathing exercises, mind control with positive thoughts.

What works for one person may not work with another. Some people for instance may find that distracting themselves from their thoughts by talking with others or doing something creative is an effective way to calm themselves, whilst others might find it difficult to concentrate on anything other than their symptoms.

Controlling Panic Attacks.

  • Find something to distract yourself this could be reading a book, baking a cake or talking to someone.
  • Learn deep breathing techniques.
  • Practice meditation and muscle relaxation techniques.
  • Accept that you are having a panic attack and that, while the feeling is uncomforable the symptoms will not last forever.
  • Focus on positive thoughts.

What triggers a panic attack?

Panic attacks can be set off by specific situations, manifested through a triggered fear.

People who suffer from anxiety disorders, panic disorder, or other mental health conditions are more likely to experience panic attacks than others. 

What alternative help other than medication is available?

Panic attacks and chronic anxiety can be alleviated through meditation and hypnosis. However, if you’re dealing with the symptoms of panic disorder or panic attacks, it’s best to be medically reviewed and receive the diagnosis or treatment of a healthcare professional. 

What Natural Remedies are there for Anxiety?

  • Meditation
  • Hypnosis
  • Breathing exercises concentrating on inhalation/exhalation.
  • Muscle relaxation exercises
  • Distraction – Find something to do to take your mind off things. For me it is blogging or reading a book or watching a documentary.
  • Scripting positive thoughts
  • Keeping a journal, keeping track of thoughts and anxietythis helps to recognise the triggers. Part of conquering anxiety is understanding it!

What to drink to calm nerves?

Avoid caffeinated alcohol, coffee, or tea as sometimes caffeine can sometimes amplify the feelings and sensations you’d like to avoid. Drink herbal teas instead,

Drop us an email or leave a comment below and I will send you a herbal tea book for free.

If your symptoms are chronic or severe, it may be time to seek help.

Note From The Editor.

I have heard that lavender helps to relax you and aromatherapy can help with anxiety and stress. I am trying to be brave meeting my relative and leaving my comfort zone for the first time in one and half years and will update you on how it went on the 9th of this month.

I can feel my heart racing a bit but I am distracting myself with my work and also doing some self-hypnosis sessions on myself.

I have not cured myself of OCD yet and simply interacting with other human beings is going to be very daunting and a big ordeal for me considering I will be out for the majority of the day including going somewhere to eat. I am not sure how I will cope, to be honest, so wish me luck.

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