Panic Attacks vs. Anxiety Attacks: How Are They Different?

Anxiety is a mental health condition that is a lot more common than one might think. It is the most common mental health disorder in the US, affecting 40 million people every year. It is often associated with panic attacks—sudden kicks of intense fear and anxiety. Despite the similarities, there is a difference between panic attacks and anxiety attacks, which are:

What Is a Panic Attack?

A panic attack is the sudden overwhelming sense of fear that takes over the entire body. Panic attacks can happen unexpectedly to anyone. These are sudden episodes of being struck with anxiety and fear that can manifest physically, which can be a dangerous sign. 

Panic attacks can also be expected, especially if there is a trigger that stems from a phobia. An overwhelming sense of fear can overcome a person when they’re in the presence of something distressing.

Characteristics of a Panic Attack

Physical symptoms of a panic attack can vary from person to person. Some people can feel hot or cold. They can also feel numbness and weird tingling up and down the body. The hands may be unable to move or keep steady. 

Severe panic attacks include accelerated heart rates or the feeling of choking. Mentally, one could be experiencing thoughts of depersonalization or and an amplified fear of dying. 

What Is An Anxiety Attack?

Anxiety attacks are not as severe as panic attacks. They stem from an existing condition of anxiety, whether diagnosed or not. These episodes usually happen when one is worried that something grievous might happen. 

Characteristics of an Anxiety Attack

Anxiety attacks aren’t as defined as panic attacks, so people can experience them differently from others. However, most people who experience it are incredibly nervous with the worry that the worse will happen. A person experiencing anxiety attacks can feel tense, jumpy, on high alert, and often lose the ability to concentrate. 

Anxiety attacks don’t have many physical symptoms. However, the body can trigger frequent urination and insomnia.

Similarities of a Panic and Anxiety Attack

It is easy to mistake one over the other because anxiety is the factor that ties these two together. Both episodes can include chest pain, shortness of breath, some trembling, and headaches. It may also cause profuse sweating and clammy extremities. 

Mentally, both panic and anxiety attacks stem from a buildup of fear and immense stress. While the reasons and severity differ, they both require an individual to find better ways to cope with the problem.


Panic and anxiety attacks are something that should be taken seriously. Such episodes entail a need for professional help to learn how to manage them. Extreme stress and feelings of dread are emotions that people may need help processing. Therapy is recommended for any individual experiencing any or both of these breakdowns.

Everyone deserves to give their mental health a break. For affordable therapy in Brooklyn, reach out to Therapy24x7, a psychotherapy and life-coaching service available in-office and online. We offer support and professional advice on enhancing coping strategies, stress management, depression and anxiety, and more. Book an appointment today!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *