Anxiety attacks and panic attacks may feel similar, but they are different

You should know that the panic attack vs. anxiety attack debate is quite surprising … they are actually different conditions. I would have never guessed that! Panic attacks involve overpowering and often debilitating fear. They also come on quite quickly and are paired with alarming physical symptoms, such as an increased heartbeat, labored breathing, or feeling sick to your stomach. Panic attacks are also recognized by the DSM-5, while anxiety is primarily categorized as a symptom to disorders.

What are anxiety attack symptoms

Panic and anxiety attacks share a lot of emotional and physical symptoms. They may also feel quite similar. To make this even more interesting, you can experience both at the same time! For example, anxiety may be catalyzed when you worry about a stressful situation. When the situation arises, that anxiety may develop into a panic attack.

What to expect when experiencing an anxiety attack:

  • Uneasiness and worry.
  • Anguish .
  • Headache.
  • Agitation.
  • Increased heartrate and chest pain.
  • Labored breathing and dry mouth.
  • Fear.
  • Chills or hot flashes, even sweating.
  • Shaking.
  • Numbness or tingling.
  • Nausea, abdominal cramps (even pain), or upset stomach.
  • Feeling faint or dizzy.

With quite a laundry list of symptoms, you may be wondering what separates a panic attack from an anxiety attack. The answer is that a panic attack will cause you to feel a loss of control and even detachment from the world. I once had a panic attack that caused me to blackout … now I can confidentially distinguish what it was.

Deep breaths, mindfulness, and reframing thoughts are the answer

When you feel anxiety coming on, you want to stop it quickly. Deep, controlled breathing can help reset your body chemistry. Sit up straight and close your eyes. Slowly inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Repeat this process until your mind is feeling more clear, and you’re ready to tackle the obstacle in front of you.

Mindfulness is key. Be present for only one task at a time. Try to put aside all the other activities you have to complete throughout a day. Focus on the task at hand. Realize that you can only do one thing at a time. Try some grounding techniques like counting ceiling tiles or running concentration exercises from your head to your toes.

Listen to your thoughts and reframe the negativity. Be vigilant of what you’re saying to yourself and be kind. We so often work against ourselves, missing that we can be our own personal advocates.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. So many do! Anxiety can be crippling — there is power in seeking out a solution.



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Alexandra Ashe
Alexandra is a sober woman who loves animals, writing, nature, horror movies, fitness, and self-improvement. After suffering a relapse in late 2016, she revamped her lifestyle and has been sober since March 2017. She is also the CEO and founder of Kinkatopia, which is the only kinkajou-specific organization in the world. Alexandra literally lives and breathes kinkajous — in addition to working a full-time career, taking care of her health, and giving back to the world in other ways. She is a woman on a mission ... the Mother of Kinkajous. Follow Alexandra’s articles to relish her experiences staying sober and running a kinkajou sanctuary. There is never a dull moment, that’s a promise. Kinkatopia.org

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