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Panic Vs Anxiety Attack: Know the Difference by Dr. Sharmistha Barai

Everyone is affected by mental disorders. In fact, around 57.7 million American adults are diagnosed with mental disorders which are considered as the leading cause of incapacity in the United States. Other disorders diagnosed include alcoholism, bipolar disorder, depression and schizophrenia. But the most common are panic and anxiety attacks.

While both are dubbed as the most common mental disorder, both terms are often used interchangeably. But what is the real difference between panic vs. anxiety attack?

Panic Attacks

Panic vs. anxiety attack may be quite difficult to differentiate. But according to the National Institute of Mental Health, panic disorder indeed falls under anxiety disorder. Approximately six million adults have panic disorder which is often seen during early adulthood and extends throughout. Additionally, a person with panic disorder also develops agoraphobia or the fear of being in a place wherein escape is impossible.

The so-called panic disorder is the reason behind panic attacks or the sudden fear for no specific reason. This is unpredictable and happens when one least expect it. When a person experiences an episode of panic attack, his fear intensifies causing him to lose control. The sense of terror is accompanied by chest pain, inability to breathe properly, nausea and palpitations.

With all the factors combined, it can make the sufferer think that he is dying. In addition, panic attacks usually occur and intensify when a person is stressed out. This means that a patient must undergo proper medication and therapy. These can help improve a sufferer's condition since the attacks may reoccur in the future.

Anxiety Attack

Anxiety attack, on the other hand, is a wide range of apprehensive and fearful emotions. Around 40 million adults suffer from anxiety disorder. Most of them experience another form of anxiety disorder such as generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and phobias. In addition, the first episode of anxiety disorder was experienced at the early age of 21.

Furthermore, this may be caused by an event in a person's life or a problem that one cannot forget. This may also be due to a person's feeling about life. Additionally, a person may be aware that he is anxious or is not fully aware. A person may experience anxiety in certain times of his life but there are those that experience them more than once.

During acute cases, the attacks may suddenly happen accompanied by chills, difficulty breathing, palpitations and other physical symptom. But this will last for only a few minutes. Moreover, Sigmund Freud, an Austrian neurologist believed that there are three basic causes of anxiety namely: anxiety about losing an important person or loved one, anxiety about castration and anxiety about one's place in the world. Some of these may disappear but other may be resolved with professional help.

Above are the differences between panic vs. anxiety attack. Indeed, the most common mental disorders can affect a person's daily activities. In order to avoid any hassles, a simple trip to the hospital is the best solution. Following doctor's order as well as undergoing medication and treatment can make a patient feel better and soon move on.

Are you looking for more information regarding panic vs. anxiety attack then consult with Dr. Sharmistha Barai.

Sharmistha Barai is a Child & Adolescent psychiatrist based in Saint Louis, Missouri and can help you or anyone you know dealing with depression to find effective, medically-proven techniques to deal with the disease and other disorders.

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