Panic Attack vs Anxiety Attack: Know the difference between the two health conditions

Feelings of fear and unease can be agonising. Knowing the difference between a panic attack and anxiety attack can help get you a proper diagnosis and recovery.
mental health,anxiety attack,panic attack,Health & FitnessPanic Attack vs Anxiety Attack: Know the difference between the two health conditions
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The two terms, Panic attack and anxiety attack are often used interchangeably but they are different terms. Both attacks have different intensities and durations. But there are some key characteristics that separate the two health conditions. In general, panic attacks are considered more intense than anxiety attacks. Panic attacks often occur without an obvious cause, whereas anxiety attacks are caused by external stressors or some kind of trigger. 

Panic attacks is a sudden fear or discomfort accompanied by other physical and mental symptoms like racing heartbeat, nausea, or shortness of breath. Anxiety attacks, on the other hand, often comes in reaction to a stressor. Some common symptoms of anxiety include distress, fear and worry. The symptoms are also similar which is why misdiagnosis is not uncommon. However, understanding the differences between the two health conditions might help speed up the recovery. 

Read on to know the difference between an anxiety attack and a panic attack. 

What are the symptoms? 

Symptoms of a panic attack may include a racing heartbeat, chest pain, giddiness, hot flashes, nausea, shaking, numbness, shortness of breath, stomach ache, sweating, loss of control, a sudden fear of death and depersonalization. 

Anxiety attack symptoms include being startled, pain in the chest, dry mouth, dizziness, lethargy, fear irritability, inability to focus, pain in muscles, restlessness, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, disturbed sleep patterns, worry, distress, shortness of breath or feeling of being smothered. 

The symptoms of the two conditions are quite similar, so here are some things to help you differentiate: 

1) Panic attacks occur out of the blue, but anxiety is a response to a stressor or threat. 

2) The symptoms of a panic attack are intense, whereas the signs of an anxiety attack can vary from mild to moderate. 

3) Panic attack appears suddenly and is intense in nature. They might diminish after a few minutes. Anxiety attack, on the contrary, becomes gradually intense over minutes or hours and can prevail for a long time. 

Common causes 

Panic and anxiety attacks are often triggered by similar things, including: 


Social problems 

Some sort of phobia 

Chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, asthma, etc. 

Chronic pain 

Consumption of too much caffeine 

Certain medication 

Hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism 



Apart from over-the-counter medicines and consulting a therapist you can incorporate some healthy lifestyle habits to alleviate the symptoms of both anxiety and panic attack. 

1) Try to remain positive and let go of the negative things that might trigger these conditions.

2) Discover what is it that is triggering these attacks, try t manage the stressors if you can. 

3) Drinking too much alcohol or caffeine intake can trigger the attacks. Limiting the intake might help. 

4) Eating a healthy and balanced diet can make a lot of difference. 

5) Get at least 6-8 hours of sleep to alleviate the symptoms. 

6) Exercise every day to keep your physical and mental health in check. 

7) Indulge in some activities to keep your mind calm and keep these attacks at bay. 

8) Practice meditation or yoga or deep breathing. 

9) Talk to someone you trust and build a support system that can help you overcome the problem. 


Panic attacks and anxiety attacks might seem like the same condition but they are not. The symptoms and causes of both conditions are similar, which might make it difficult for you to differentiate between the two conditions. The main difference is that panic attacks are not triggered by a stressor or threat, but anxiety attacks are caused by some sort of trigger.

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