Hi. It’s Jenny at AnxietyBoss.com. Our question today is from Nicole in McClung, Virginia. Is panic attack and anxiety attack the same thing?
The short answer is no. Panic attacks and anxiety attacks are not the same thing. There are, however, many similarities between the two. The key difference is that anxiety attacks are provoked by a specific stressor or trigger; whereas, a panic attack is unprovoked or the trigger is unidentifiable and unpredictable.
The similarities and the physiological symptoms experienced during anxiety and panic attack is what makes people question whether they are the same thing. However, the differences are best identified by the intensity and duration of the predominant symptoms experienced.
In both panic and anxiety attacks, the symptoms may include dizziness, shortness of breath and heart palpitations. During a panic attack, these symptoms occur suddenly and unpredictably. They increase in intensity over a short period of time. In addition, you may experience additional symptoms of feelings of deep personalization or being detached from yourself, fear of dying, numbness, trembling or feeling of choking. Symptoms associated with panic attack usually subside as suddenly as they occur.
Symptoms of anxiety attack on the other hand usually manifest slowly over a continuous period of time, becoming consistently more intense with time and generally in response to a specific stressor. The symptoms do not reach as intense a peak as in panic attacks with the person still able to continue with daily function, albeit at an impaired quality, and is characterized by feelings of persistent worry. Anxiety attacks can last for weeks or even months without subsiding.