Anxiety disorders and panic attacks have become increasingly common these days. However, there is a difference between the two. Knowing both properly is important to offer appropriate treatment and lifestyle measures.
A panic attack generally refers to an intensely high and severe wave of fever accompanied by uncertainty, fear, pain, and inability to act appropriately. Although panic attacks carry no real danger, they’re quite frightening and falter one to lose control over and develop a sense of dying. In most of the cases, it strikes without any obvious sign or trigger. It may occur at any hour of the day. It may encounter one, while asleep, in relaxed or wakeful conditions. A panic attack incites some amount of fear and discomfort that increases with time and invariably turns into pain and suffering within the few upcoming minutes. Panic attacks show no danger to the body physically.
According to experts, panic attacks are an absurd surge of intense fear or discomfort, reaching a peak within a few minutes and the hallmark feature is that occurs without any warning.1
Anxiety occurs when the body gears up to face any challenge. Nervousness, worry, and stress are all results of anxiety. Anxiety helps to tackle the problems and overcome even the toughest of the circumstances, but when it comes to ineffable reasons, it is called an anxiety attack. Anxiety attacks usually bring no hazard to the body but are very harmful to mental phenomena. Studies suggest that anxiety disorders are a result of the interaction of psychosocial factors like childhood adversity, stressful events or genetic vulnerability.2
Difference Between Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Anxiety attacks and panic attacks differ in their nature and the duration of the attacks is the main factor. Panic attacks last for a very brief period of few minutes but are very sharp, unpleasant and highly intense. Panic attacks are different from panic disorder. An individual with panic disorder is prone to recurring panic attacks. Fear of death, dismay, detachment, and fear of future attacks tend to disturb these individuals continuously.
Anxiety disorders pay a visit during stressful situations and due to emotional tension. Anxiety attacks come fast, often and in any situation even without stress, to the individual with an anxiety disorder. Although panic attacks may be noted in people having anxiety disorders, it is not always necessary.
Causes of Anxiety Disorders and Panic Attacks
Anxiety attacks may originate from any source, clear or unclear. Most of the time, the reasons for the occurrence are observed as excessive stress, fear of losing something, detachment from close ones, and hereditary reasons. Anxiety attacks also originate from any thought related to the insufficient supply of addiction (cigarettes, alcohol or any addiction) if an individual is addicted to some sort of addiction.
Panic attacks and disorders can also find their origin from some pre-existing diseases hyperthyroidism or altered thyroid activity, cardiac problems, low blood sugar level or hypoglycemia.
Understanding Anxiety Levels
Anxiety and panic attacks show many symptoms at a time if they occur to an individual with an anxiety disorder. At the time of the attack, these many symptoms may show up at times:
- Shortness of breath, exceedingly fast and brief breaths.
- Fear of death and dismay
- The feeling of choking and dizziness
- Chest pain, very sharp and penetrating
- Rapidly soaring heart rates
- Excessive sweating, all around the head, face and the body
- Trembling and fainting
- A feeling of being in oblivion
- Trouble speaking, the voice seems to have no power
- Headache, chills
In cases of minor attacks, attacks occurring fresh to any individual and attacks that come during stressful situations, any 4-5 of the aforesaid symptoms may show up, but in major cases of a panic attack and if anxiety is too much, all of the listed symptoms may encounter to the individual. Individuals with anxiety disorder generally face most of the symptoms at the time of the occurrence of the attack.
Anxiety disorders tend to wreck the individual mentally if left untreated. Depression, isolation and continuous state of self-doubt and lack of confidence can permanently reside inside the individual if the treatment is procrastinated for long. Hence, it is necessary to seek a timely diagnosis and treatment.
Treatment for Anxiety Disorders and Panic Attacks
Although anxiety and panic attacks bear no harm to the physical body, they can devastate the mental state of our body. Panic attacks incite one to think of danger, pain, death, and dismay while the solution lies in the feeling of relaxation and tranquility. These attacks restrict your mind to think of the solution filling up the mind with thoughts of fear and grief.
Firstly, seek the doctor to figure out the type of anxiety disorder an individual is affected with. Anxiety disorders and panic attacks are of various types as:
General Panic Disorder: Frequent panic attacks that retain the feeling of detachment and fear, puts one in a state of heavy and short breath, gasping and choking situation. Attacks are sharp and unpleasant. It lasts for a few minutes, usually for up to 10 minutes. It occurs with no prior warning. The attack is sudden and intense.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Attack that occurs repeatedly accompanying uncontrollable actions and behaviors. The affected are obsessed with any type of practice or a particular behavior, like cleaning hands repeatedly. They become futile at petty reasons behind.
Phobias: Attacks originating from any source of fear fall into this category. Fear of loss, fear of any creature, fear from height or depth, water, and fire, or fear from anything may trigger these types of attacks. The affected individual can faint with fear and anxiety.
Alternative Treatments for Anxiety Disorders and Panic Attacks
Anxiety disorders and panic attacks can be managed with self-help measures, apart from medical treatment. Self-help can help the patient deal with the situation, some of the measures include
- Exercising regularly relieves stress. It works as a natural anxiety oppressor, eliminating stress by perspiration and workout. 15-20 minutes of exercise daily can do the job well. Running, swimming, cycling, walking, dancing and other forms of exercises that need a movement of body parts are good options to tackle anxiety.
- Breathing exercises and yoga may prove beneficial to the individual with the disorder. Learning to control the breath and letting go of worry through breath can eventually help a person deal with the most serious of the panic attacks. In case of panic attacks, one can break out of the anxiety and become tranquil by applying the techniques learned during practice sessions of breathing exercises. Meditation is also an antidote to these types of attacks and disorders. It would help the individual to relax during unrest situations, especially during such devastating attacks.
- Avoiding any sort of addiction may prove to be fruitful and is necessary for an individual desiring to avoid anxiety and panic attacks. Smoking, alcohol, sleeping pills, and other unnecessary medications all act as a trigger for panic attacks.
- Adequate sleep can help to cope with anxiety. Improper and insufficient sleep provokes anxiety and depression.
- Admitting and recognizing the symptoms of anxiety disorders and panic attacks based on previous experiences can help. But planning ways to deal with the situation and improve one’s behavior is equally important.
- Face the oncoming feelings and it would decrease the intensity of suffering.
- Try to stay in the now as much possible. Staying in the present situation does the work for sure by cutting down unknowing fears of the future.
- Thinking of the attack as fallible and powerless and non-hazardous would increase the individual’s strength to fight the painful situation.
- Quit isolation and try to be in the company of family and friends as much possible. Be surrounded by a group all the time to eliminate any sort of detachment feelings.
- Commit to face-to-face talks, long talks, happy hours and joyous moments. Make new friends and meet new people. Travel occasionally to boost mental performance and repair and rejuvenate.
Medical Treatment for Anxiety Attacks
Anxiety disorders and panic attacks may need treatment if the condition demands so. The very first step for getting medication is to rule out the possibility that the existing symptoms that a person might be feeling are not due to the medication they were using previously or using it currently.
- For short-term relief, medicines are used to put down the intense situation under control.
- Tranquilizers may help an individual to calm down and relax.
- Antidepressants work slow but are effective if consumed regularly. They are effective in fighting depression and detachment.
- Anti-anxiety drugs like Benzodiazepines provide quick relief from the effects of the attack.
Medication is useful to reduce the signs of anxiety disorder or panic attacks and is often advised together with other treatments. Some types of anxiety medications can be habit-forming and are usually advised for a very brief period or on a need basis. Anxiety disorders and panic attacks must be properly evaluated to find the right type of medication for treatment. Contrasting panic attacks have dissimilar prescription commands. Some are formulated to cure the root of the problem, while others are made to prevent any kind of disorder occurring at that time.