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Panic Attacks

One of the most intriguing characteristics of a panic attack is the intensity it comes on with seemingly out of nowhere. All of a sudden, an individual is overwhelmed with the many physical as well as psychological symptoms of panic. Typically starting with a shift in the feeling of the body, heart rate starts to go up and thoughts of imminent threat settle in. Frequently, people feel as though they are dying, having a heart attack, or losing their mind. The more panicked they become, the more intense their symptoms become. Within ten minutes, the rush of symptoms comes to a peak and then start to subside. Commonly, panic attacks last no longer than approximately 20-25 minutes total. After the panic is over, there are psychological symptoms of exhaustion and confusion. Physically, there are peculiar symptoms that indicate a panic attack has taken place. Severe and intense panic can cause the abdominal muscles to tighten and then release. Many people experience diarrhea after a panic attack as the digestive system has been pushed during the panic attack.

Panic attacks are traumatizing. The feeling of being out of control of one’s life, body, and mind is deeply disturbing. Often, people feel somewhat ‘panicked’ the rest of the day. Any small sign that could indicate another oncoming panic attack is met with a triggered response of fear. Most people are on edge the rest of the day after a panic attack.

Anxiety Attacks

The defining difference between a panic attack and an anxiety attack is that a panic attack includes the convincing thoughts that one is about to die or lose their mind. In addition, the amount of time that an attack lasts for is an indicator. Panic attacks are short. An attack of anxiety can last for hours or even days. Whereas a panic attack feels as though it is coming out of nowhere, anxiety attacks can usually be pinpointed. In fact, it is often ruminating over something that feels particularly threatening that causes the anxiety attack, giving the individual full information on where the anxiety attack is coming from.

Many of the physical symptoms in a panic attack can also occur in an anxiety attack. People can confuse an anxiety attack with a heart attack as they experience chest pain, numbness or tingling in the limbs, heart palpitations, and more.