Phrases like ‘anxiety attack’ and ‘panic attack’ get thrown around in daily conversation fairly regularly. Many people even diagnose themselves based on what they think an episode feels like, often unable to distinguish between a panic attack vs anxiety attack. To dedicated healthcare professionals, it’s no surprise that panic and anxiety attacks are part of an ongoing cultural dialogue. Roughly 40 million American adults (that’s 18% of our population!) suffer from symptoms of anxiety, and panic is often an offshoot of an underlying anxiety issue. But anxiety doesn’t discriminate based on age; it can strike anyone at any time in life. It’s important to know the difference between a panic attack vs anxiety attack, because they are deeply interrelated but differing conditions. Knowing what you’re dealing with can help you seek the right help and treatment at a mental health treatment center.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety evolved alongside our distinctive intelligence as a reaction to stress. It crops up to set off an alarm, warning us about a situation that is or could become dangerous, uncomfortable, or unfamiliar. It prompts us to sharpen our awareness and alertness so that we can respond appropriately to a perceived threat. But for some people, this signal gets activated and won’t turn off. Being stuck with the switch ‘on’ pushes anxiety from a normal, healthy adaptive mechanism into the territory of a debilitating disorder that can range from mild to severe. The amount of time you spend feeling anxious and the severity of that anxiety can vary accordingly. The longer and more regularly you experience this kind of heightened state, the more your nervous system will be cued into a state of hyper-arousal that can last for days, weeks, or even months.
Common symptoms of anxiety include insomnia, restlessness, irritability, excessive worrying, trouble concentrating, racing thoughts, memory recall issues, feeling on edge as well as nausea, upset stomach, fatigue, muscle tension, palpitations, and pounding heartbeats. Triggers such as traumatic and stressful events need to be identified and understood in order for the healing journey to begin.
What is Panic?
If you’re struggling to differentiate between a panic attack vs anxiety attack, you’re not alone. People often conflate the two, for good reason. Panic and anxiety share many emotional and physical symptoms, and someone can be suffering from both at the same time. But whereas anxiety is more anticipatory and gradual, panic attacks are an abrupt symptom or culmination of anxiety that manifest much more intensely and suddenly, almost out of the blue. Panic strikes with an overwhelming sense of fear.
Common symptoms of panic attacks are strongly acute and physical, such as trembling, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, hyperventilation, racing heartbeat, nausea, numbness or tingling (paresthesia), lightheadedness, and trouble swallowing. Although the first round of symptoms may abate after 10 minutes, further rounds can make the experience feel prolonged. Known triggers include phobias, driving, workplace tension, chronic illness or pain, drug withdrawal, caffeine, socializing, and thyroid problems.
At True Life Center’s mental health intensive outpatient program (IOP) and partial hospitalization program (PHP), we treat both panic attacks and anxiety attacks with our unique Neurobiological Integration (NBI) program, which is based on discovering the root cause of illness and utilizing an integrated and collaborative approach that gets results. This includes:
- Individual psychotherapy with DBT, CBT and/or psychodynamic approach
- Specialized psychiatric treatment
- Mindfulness and Self-compassion practices
- Yoga Therapy
- Neuromuscular Adaptation
Finding the Right Treatment for Panic & Anxiety
Whether you’re struggling with a panic attack vs anxiety attack, you may feel like your symptoms are out of control, like your body has rebelled against you. Panic and anxiety disrupt life and create a feedback loop of anticipation and fear that gets coded into your body at a cellular level. The kind of therapeutic and healing modalities we offer at True Life Center can change all of that. By leveraging holistic and clinical treatments such as acupuncture, talk therapy, mindfulness, meditation, diet, and medication where needed, we will target certain areas of your brain to regulate your mood. We’ll help you to recognize whether you’re dealing with a panic attack vs anxiety attack and then create a plan customized to your mind, body, and spirit. Contact True Life Center at 866.420.1792 and we will work together to instill the tools and values you need to cultivate a deep, abiding sense of calm and security for years to come.