Your chest begins to cave in and you can’t breathe, you might feel like you are dying, or like it may never end, but these are only anxiety attack symptoms. Anyone who experiences signs of an anxiety attack or signs of a panic attack will understand how scary it can be. Despite this, it is important to know signs of a panic attack vs anxiety attack to determine how you can better help yourself should this situation arise.
What is a Panic Attack?
When a panic attack occurs, it most often comes on suddenly. You may feel an extreme amount of fear, and other types of physical symptoms. Your body essentially is trying to alert you of danger, hence the feelings of anxiety.
These attacks can be expected or unexpected, and often come from a trigger. When an unexpected attack occurs, it can do so without reason or warning. They can become increasingly severe.
Panic attack symptoms include:
- Fear of dying or losing control
- Sense of detachment from the world, known as derealization
- Send of detachment from oneself, known as depersonalization
- Heart palpitations or an accelerated heart rate
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling of choking
- Dry mouth
- Hot flashes
- Nausea or stomach issues
- Feeling faint
What is an Anxiety Attack?
Anxiety attacks are defined as part of an anxiety disorder. Typically these attacks occur because of the anticipation of something. This might be a situation, an event, or an occurrence. Anxiety is more common than panic attacks and is often more broadly defined.
Because there is not a set definition when it comes to anxiety attacks, it can mean that your experience will be different than anyone else. Anxiety counseling programs can be extremely helpful when it comes to suffering from an anxiety attack.
Symptoms of an anxiety attack include:
- Feelings of dread
- Anticipating the worst
- Feeling jumpy
- Trouble with concentrating
- Being over-alert
- Blank mind
- Frequent urination
Panic Attack vs Anxiety Attack
Anxiety attacks are most often related to something that is perceived as stressful. Although panic attacks may have a trigger, they are not always triggered by stress, sometimes they can occur randomly with no sign. Anxiety attacks can also vary in severity. This means you may experience anxiety in your day-to-day lives, while a panic attack is usually incredibly severe and causes disruptive symptoms.
This is because, during a panic attack, the body’s fight-or-flight response takes over. Most often physical symptoms emerge and are more intense than symptoms of anxiety. Anxiety can be gradual, but panic attacks are typically abrupt. Panic attacks can also trigger fears of having another attack. This can lead you to avoid situations where you might be at risk, and wreak havoc on your daily life.
Similarities Between Panic and Anxiety Attacks
What is interesting is that although both panic attacks and anxiety attacks are different, there are similar experiences that can lead to almost the same signs. This is why it can be difficult to understand what you are experiencing.
It is even possible to experience both anxiety and panic at the same time. This is because sometimes suffering an anxiety attack, you may also experience the feeling of worry or fear. This will then trigger a panic attack. Similar symptoms may include:
- Chest pain or tightness
- Shortness of breath
- Clammy hands
- Shaking or trembling
- Loss of appetite
- Fear of losing control
When it comes to what helps with anxiety attacks vs panic attacks, you may not be able to realize it. This is why going to counseling services can help you manage your symptoms.
Getting Help for an Anxiety Attack
It is common to suffer from anxiety or fear throughout your life, but anxiety attacks and panic attacks can be more severe. Regardless of the challenges you face in life, going to counseling can be the best option. This can help you to navigate through anxiety or panic, and take control of your mental health. Options for counseling services include the following:
Acute Stress Disorder Treatment
Acute stress disorder is a type of anxiety disorder. When it comes to treating acute stress disorder, cognitive behavior therapy is the most effective treatment. If you suffer from acute stress disorder you may look into medication, but medication should not routinely be used for this disorder. This can lead to addiction and unnecessary dependence.
Adolescents often suffer from feelings of anxiety and even panic attacks. For those who are teens that do suffer from these feelings, adolescent counseling can be extremely helpful. Although you might assume that off behavior is a change in hormones, there is typically a deeper reason. Not only will this counseling help to get them through this period of their lives, but in order to provide the foundation for healthy adulthood.
Signs your teen or loved one could benefit from counseling include:
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Lack of confidence
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Constant state of worry
Individual and Group Counseling
Group counseling sessions typically include multiple clients as well as one or two therapists. During the session, rather than only speak with one therapist, a discussion will take place among the group. These sessions are completely confidential, and clients cannot discuss anything outside of the session.
Counseling and therapy can help with anxiety because it provides a topic to discuss, as well as tools to use in the future. You can choose how much you say and how much you can participate in the session. It is incredibly important to enter these sessions with an open mind. If you engage more with either group therapy or individual therapy, you will have better results.
Benefits of Group Therapy:
- Having the realization that you are not alone.
- Understanding that other people struggle with similar mental health issues.
- Feeling accepted and comfortable.
- Gaining a new perspective on your situation.
- Finding a new way of looking at your situation.
- Gain encouragement for your own situation.
- Learn how to overcome situations by learning from others.
- Strengthen social skills.
- Learn how to speak comfortably in a group
- Learn active listening.
- Learn how to be effective in managing stress at work or in social situations.
If you experience any type of trauma, it is important to know that these symptoms can lead to anxiety and panic attacks. Sometimes you may be experiencing feelings after trauma exposure that are actually very normal. Most often these are a natural response to a very abnormal situation.
Different types of trauma include:
- Sexual assault
- Sexual abuse
- Domestic violence
- Childhood abuse
- Natural disasters
- Financial uncertainty
- Food insecurity
If you are struggling with mental health issues, then you may need psychiatric services in order to manage your anxiety and panic attacks. Specifically, the term “anxiety disorder” refers to specific psychiatric disorders that involve extreme fear or worry. When obtaining psychiatric services, this might include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and panic attacks, agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, selective mutism, separation anxiety, or specific phobias.
Medication Management and Therapy
In regards to mental health, medication management involves outpatient evaluation and management of psychotropic medications. These are all used to treat adult mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, Bipolar disorder, ADHD, and other anxiety disorders.
Medication treatment of anxiety is known to be both safe and effective. It is important that medication treatment is always coupled with therapy. Whether a medication is long-term or short-term, then it is important for medication to be tailored to both symptoms and goals. Despite this, it can take time and patience to find the right medication. There are various options when it comes to medications and therapies, so it is important to find what works best for you.
Medication Therapy For Anxiety and Panic Disorders
There are four main types of medication options when it comes to anxiety and panic disorders.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors
Known as SSRIs, these help to treat anxiety by blocking the reabsorption of serotonin. Certain nerve cells within the brain are affected. SSRIs allow there to be more serotonin available to improve mood. SSRIs most often have fewer side effects than tricyclic antidepressants, but there are some.
SSRIs are considered an effective treatment for all anxiety disorders, but higher dosages are used when treating obsessive-compulsive disorder. Side effects include:
- Insomnia or sleepiness
- Sexual dysfunction
- Weight gain
Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors
Referred to as SNRIs, these drugs can be used for the dual mechanism action. They increase the levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine. This is done by inhibiting their reabsorption into cells in the brain.
Most often SNRIs are prescribed to treat generalized anxiety disorder, known as GAD, but are considered as effective as SSRIs.Common side effects include:
- Upset stomach
- Sexual dysfunction
- Minor increase in blood pressure
Used for the short-term management of anxiety, benzodiazepines are extremely effective at producing a relaxed feeling and reducing muscular tension. These are two symptoms of anxiety, but because they are short-acting, they are often prescribed in conjunction with another class of medication. This other medication would be used for long-term management. Short-term needs are considered helpful for panic attacks, and when used long-term, benzodiazepines may require a higher dosage. This is called tolerance, and to remain effective these can lead to dependence on the drug.
This class is typically used when there is a chance of long-term dependency on benzodiazepines. These can be extremely effective in treating anxiety, but there are some significant side effects. Side effects of tricyclic antidepressants include:
- Drop-in blood pressure upon standing up
- Urinary retention
- Dry mouth
- Blurry vision
Criteria for Diagnosis of Panic Disorder
Not everyone who has panic attacks has panic disorder. It is possible to look into and diagnose a panic disorder by using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, known as the DSM-5. Panic attacks are diagnosed by the following:
- You have frequent, unexpected panic attacks.
- At least one of your attacks has been followed by one month or more of ongoing worry about having another attack
- You have continued fear of the consequences of an attack
- You have continued fear of symptoms such as losing control, having a heart attack or “going crazy”
- There are significant changes in your behavior, such as avoiding situations that may trigger a panic attack
- Your panic attacks aren’t caused by drugs or other substance use, a medical condition, or another mental health condition, such as a social phobia or obsessive-compulsive disorder
If you have panic attacks but not a diagnosed panic disorder, you can still benefit from treatment. When panic attacks aren’t treated, they can get worse. Eventually, these attacks will develop into panic disorder or phobias.
Criteria for Diagnosis of Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety disorders are characterized by excessive anxiety and worry. This is also known as apprehensive expectation, and it will occur more days than not for at least 6 months to be considered a disorder. Specifically, you may find it difficult to control your worry. Anxiety and worry are associated with having at least three of the following six symptoms that are present for more days than not for the past 6 months:
- Restlessness: Feeling hyped up, or on edge.
- Being easily fatigued
- Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
- Muscle tension
- Sleep disturbance: Might include insomnia, difficulty falling or staying asleep, restless or unsatisfying sleep.
Anxiety vs Panic
The terms anxiety attack vs panic attack is often used interchangeably. Despite this, they are two very different things. Understanding the difference between the two can be difficult, but if you can learn to understand the distinct differences you will be able to diagnose and get help more easily. Primarily, the differences lie in how they come on, how long they last, how they are triggered, and how they are treated. Contact us today to learn more about the programs we offer to help you conquer your anxiety or panic disorders. Contact us at Find Addiction Rehab to get help today.