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“Am I Having An Anxiety Attack Or A Panic Attack?”


As human beings, we are born with the fear of loud sounds/noises. As we grow, we absorb and learn more fears - dark places, animals, people, situations, colors, elevators, examinations, etc. We’ve seen our nervousness for class tests in school transition to fear for public speaking and so on. Fear, anxiety, distress, nervousness is a graded emotion. At its mildest it moves upwards from nervousness, stress, fear, distress, worried, frightened, anxious, terrified, horrified and panicked.

Our fear has different outlets - emotional, physical, cognitive and physiological. When we face any of the above-mentioned emotions, we tend to face a few of the following symptoms:

  • Feeling increasingly irritable or snappy
  • Low moods and decreased motivation
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fluctuating body temperatures i.e., hot and cold flashes
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased forgetfulness
  • Acidity
  • Lowered immunity

When this psychological distress finds an outlet in pure physical symptoms it is a panic attack, and when these physical symptoms are accompanied by mild emotional signs, it is an anxiety attack. When you’re experiencing or watching someone have a sudden onset of physical symptoms, it is very difficult to differentiate between the two in the moment.




Emotional Component 







Days to Weeks

Seconds to Minutes 


Mild, Moderate and Severe 


Recurrent episodes lead to 

Panic attacks

           Panic Disorder  






What is an anxiety attack?

Simply put, anxiety attacks happen when the feeling of fear and distress gets out of hand. They are always triggered by an internal stressor which the individual has been ruminating over like the feeling of worry, guilt, and endless overthinking loops. They could also be triggered by some kind of conflict, overthinking, burnout, anger and predisposed health conditions. In most cases, a recurrent episode happens due to the anticipatory fear of another one happening.
The physical symptoms can include rapid breathing, crying spells, shortness of breath, nausea, chest pain, trembling, increased sweating, feeling dizzy etc. While anxiety attacks can be mild, moderate or severe depending on the intensity of the emotional symptoms and duration, a severe anxiety attack is usually referred to as a panic attack.

What is a panic attack?

Panic attacks on the other hand have no known trigger and only have physical symptoms. They are known to imitate heart attacks or severe asthma attacks, leaving individuals to have frequent runs to the hospital. They come on all of a sudden and share the same physical symptoms as mentioned for anxiety attacks and with the person feeling a sense of impending doom.

Panic attacks are almost always severe in nature and can be brought on by multiple factors such as guilt, build-up on undressed stressors, comorbidity with other mental health concerns, life transitions, trauma or insufficient sleep. While they last anywhere between a few seconds to a maximum of 30 minutes, the recovery period for the body after experiencing the symptoms usually takes a few hours to half a day.

How do deal with them?

For both anxiety and panic attacks, the strategy is to break away from the bodily release of stress. This can be done by sucking on cinnamon tablets, drinking water, splashing it on your face, clenching and popping your jaw, writing down your thoughts, focusing on an object outside your body such as the different textures on your pen, etc and speaking to a therapist who will help you create your relief and recovery plan.

Prevention is always better than cure! Take charge of your mental health and become stronger with us today. Here’s a handy guide for you to understand and break the loop of overthinking:



              Listen to the Thought Guide When I Cant Stop Overthinking