The Difference Between Panic And Anxiety Attacks
This year has been hard on a lot of people's mental health. If you have ever been to the point you thought you were having a panic attack, it could have been an anxiety attack. Yes, there is a difference, and we're here to tell you all about it.
I have struggled with anxiety for years and in the past three or four, it has manifested in what I only assumed to be panic attacks because I did not really know the difference.
Usually, my attacks were brought on by stressful situations or I would just already be upset. Then, anxiety would kick in and all of a sudden, the world feels like it's caving in around me, I feel like I'm falling apart and have a ton of bricks laying on my chest.
A friend of mine who also suffered similar attacks described the mental part of it as "there are 7 different TVs on at once that are all just static and you can't find a remote."
According to Healthline, these kinds of attacks usually happen abruptly whereas one caused by anxiety can build up over time.
There are a lot of ways anxiety attacks and panic attacks are similar but there are some key reasons they are different. Here's a diagram made with information from Healthline:
Both are rooted in anxiety and ultimately, it is anxiety that causes panic attacks.
"Anxiety can be mild, moderate, or severe. For example, anxiety may be happening in the back of your mind as you go about your day-to-day activities," says Healthline. "Panic attacks, on the other hand, mostly involve severe, disruptive symptoms."
So how do you pull yourself out of an attack?
With anxiety, just remove the stressor or remove yourself from the stressor before you panic. With a panic attack, it's a bit different.
When I have a panic attack, what helps me most is to remove any clothing adding to my discomfort or stress. No, I do not get naked but if I'm having trouble breathing, anything near my neck is first to go. I also remove any jackets or belts I may have on. Then, i sit down and get my head between my knees. This helps me feel smaller, more protected and lets me focus on nothing but my breathing.
Some tips from Healthline include: recognizing and accepting what's going on and know it will pass, use relaxation techniques, and practice mindfulness.
My heart goes out to anyone else who deals with condition(s) like this. Just yesterday I had a panic attack, my first one in two years, and no matter how many you have, they're terrifying. Sure, you know what's going on and that you'll be okay and you know how to deal with it but in-the-moment, none of that matters.
Stay strong, therapy helps and just remember "it's okay to not be okay."
For more information on mental health, here are symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder to recognize: