Anxiety Attack vs Panic Attack: What’s the Difference?

overcome your anxiety

Having a panic attack is scary and confusing.

You feel like you’re suffocating, like you have a heart attack, as you’ll die. Your muscles tense up, and nothing you do improves things. You start to worry that this is something that will happen again.

It’s a panic attack, and they’re not pleasant. They don’t understand the difference between an anxiety attack vs panic attack.

Here’s what you need to know.


Panic attacks generally appear suddenly and without warning, often lasting only minutes. Symptoms may include:

  • intense fear or feeling of dread
  • rapid heartbeat
  • chest pains
  • shortness of breath
  • trembling
  • dizziness
  • a sense of losing control

What is an anxiety attack? It tends to build up gradually and persist over a longer period. Symptoms of anxiety attacks can be similar to panic attacks, as well as:

  • digestive distress (nausea, diarrhea)
  • insomnia
  • muscle tension
  • sweating
  • headaches
  • and fatigue

These may vary from person to person and range from mild to severe. It is essential to seek professional help if an anxiety or panic attack impacts your life.

To overcome your anxiety, treatments, and management strategies are available to reduce the severity and frequency of the symptoms.


Anxiety and panic attacks are similar in that both involve intense fear and distress, causing various physical and emotional symptoms. However, an anxiety attack is typically mild, lasting only a few minutes and focusing on worries related to a specific factor or event.

On the other hand, a panic attack is more intense. It can last for hours, bringing on a sense of terror and uncontrollable fear that is sometimes accompanied by chest pain, dizziness, and difficulty breathing.

Triggers for these attacks can vary from person to person but typically include situations that evoke strong emotions, such as being in a crowded place or feeling overwhelmed by a task. Identifying any potential triggers to handle and eventually overcome the symptoms associated with these attacks is essential.

The Intensity of the Attack

The intensity of the attack is one factor that distinguishes them. Anxiety attacks involve prolonged anxious thoughts, typically lasting minutes to hours. These disorders are characterized by excessive worry and fear of a future situation.

On the other hand, panic attacks involve intense episodes of fear that develop quickly, usually lasting around 10 minutes. During these attacks, a person can experience severe physical and panic symptoms such as trembling, sweating, and shortness of breath.

While both are debilitating experiences, panic attacks are usually more intense, and the physical symptoms can be stronger than those of an anxiety attack.

Treatment Options

Treatment options for anxiety and panic attacks include cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation techniques, and medications such as antianxiety or antidepressants. Additionally, regular exercise, healthy eating habits, avoiding caffeine and nicotine, and getting enough sleep can help prevent or reduce the frequency of anxiety and panic attacks. Seeking care from a professional is critical in handling and managing these types of attacks.

Understanding the Differences Between Anxiety Attack vs Panic Attack

The key difference between an anxiety attack vs panic attack comes down to the severity of the symptoms and their length. Both can be scary and exhausting experiences, and it’s important to seek out professional help if you have experienced either. Schedule an appointment today to start the journey to recovery!

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