Hi. It’s Jenny at AnxietyBoss.com. Our question today is from Ken in New York City. What is the difference between anxiety and a panic attack?
There are a few important basics on which you can understand the difference between an anxiety and a panic attack. The intensity and duration of symptoms, along with how they occur, will help you decide whether it’s an anxiety or a panic attack.
For most, a panic attack will suddenly get triggered by what the person fears the most. For instance, a person who has a fear of heights might experience a sudden panic attack which will die down once he is out of the dangerous situation. On the other hand, anxiety takes time to build up. A person who starts suppressing his negative emotions of resentment and fear over a longer period of time will eventually develop anxiety. The symptoms will also take longer to die down as compared to a panic attack.
Another difference lies in the intensity of symptoms. The signs of a panic attack are usually very intense such as the fear of getting suffocated or dying. Meanwhile, the symptoms of anxiety will be relatively mild such as insomnia, fatigue or muscle tension.
It is for such reasons that the therapists often find it tougher to treat an anxiety disorder than a panic attack. Meanwhile, the symptoms of a panic attack usually get to the peak in a short of a duration as 10 minutes. On the other hand, the symptoms of anxiety slowly build over days, weeks, or even years; usually caused by constant worrying and stress.
A panic attack is stronger and shorter while anxiety stays for a longer duration and is often more difficult to treat.