How to recognize an anxiety attack

Anxiety can emerge when a person is afraid that something awful will happen. It is a term that refers to a feeling of fear or worry that is frequently associated with a specific issue or concern. Anxiety may be a stress reaction. It frequently includes physical symptoms as well as thoughts of anxiety and worry. Anxiety can even occur when there is no apparent stressor. This article distinguishes between an anxiety attack and a panic attack. It also discusses the causes of anxiety attacks and potential treatment methods.


Fast facts about anxiety

An anxiety attack is typically characterized by apprehension about a certain incident or problem that may arise. Worry, restlessness, and potentially bodily signs like as changes in heart rate are all indicators. Anxiety is not the same as a panic attack, although it can be part of an anxiety or panic condition.

Anxiety attack vs. panic attack

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, does not define an anxiety attack. The definition of an anxiety attack is subjective, and people may describe a panic attack as experiencing an anxiety attack.
Anxiety can result in bodily symptoms that people may call an anxiety attack. These are some examples:

  • Feeling lightheaded and dizzy
  • A churning feeling, or a “knot” in the stomach
  • Restlessness
  • Faster breathing
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Hot flushes
  • Nausea
  • Pins and needles
  • Headaches and backaches
  • A fast or irregular heartbeat

Anxiety may have a specific trigger, such as an exam, employment troubles, a health issue, or a relationship difficulty, or it may indicate something else.
When a person feels concerned, symptoms less acute than a panic attack normally emerge gradually, according to a trusted source.

A panic attack is characterized by symptoms that might be strong or overwhelming.
Trusted Source can occur unexpectedly, regardless of whether a person feels calm or anxious, and involves physical symptoms and feelings of terror so intense that the person fears total loss of control or imminent death. Trusted Source often occurs suddenly and peaks within 10 minutes before subsiding, though the negative impact may continue.

Difference in symptoms

Both panic and anxiety may involve:

  • Fear
  • A pounding or racing heart
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Sweating
  • Chest pain
  • Irrational thoughts


Differences in how they start

Anxiety can be a natural reaction to a specific worry, fear, or stress. It normally develops gradually, and the person is usually anxious or disturbed at first. It is classified as mild, moderate, or severe.
A panic episode may occur without warning. Trusted sources leave individuals feeling out of control. A panic attack can occur whether a person is calm or worried, and it can even occur while sleeping. There might be no evident explanation, and the panic level is proportional to the trigger.


Differences in duration

A certain scenario may trigger anxiety. It tends to accumulate and last a long period.
A panic episode occurs rapidly, lasts 5-20 minutes, and peaks at 10 minutes. The benefits will eventually begin to fade. However, they may continue longer.
Anxiety does not usually peak in this manner. However, some persons with anxiety might experience panic attacks.

Can anxiety lead to panic?

Anxiety might manifest as a panic attack.
A person suffering from panic disorder may worry about a panic attack. Uncertainty over whether or whether an attack will occur may cause concern or anxiety in the meantime. People may take precautions to avoid circumstances that they believe will set off a panic attack.
Anxiety can cause a panic attack in someone who has panic disorder. A person’s conduct and capacity to function in daily life might be affected by the dread of having a panic attack.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, there may be a hereditary role to panic disorder, as it typically runs in families.


Types of anxiety disorder

There are several types of anxiety disorders. Each illness has unique symptoms that various events can trigger.
Anxiety disorders include the following:

  • Panic disorder (PD) is characterized by recurrent panic episodes and persistent anxiety about future attacks. People suffering from panic disorder may lose their jobs, refuse to travel or leave their homes, or avoid anything they feel would set off an attack.
  • GAD is a persistent mood of concern or dread that might last months or years.
    People with social anxiety disorder have a strong and persistent dread that others are observing and judging them.
  • Phobic disorder is characterized by excessive anxiety and irrationality.
    Symptoms of anxiety

People may feel the following in addition to physical symptoms of anxiety:

  • Feeling tight or worried,
  • Unable to relax,
  • A sense of dread,
  • Dreading the worse,
  • And wanting a great deal of reassurance from others
  • Rumination is a type of low mood or depression rumination in which a person thinks about a situation or thought repeatedly
  • And worries about what will happen in the future.
  • Worrying about anxiety, such as when a panic attack might occur
  • Not every case of anxiety will present with all of these symptoms. Anxiety levels can range from minor to severe, depending on the trigger and how the person reacts to it.
  • When confronted with an examination, some people may feel somewhat anxious, while others may suffer the following symptoms. Symptoms usually disappear after the hazard or perceived danger has passed.
  • Anxiety that lasts a long time or has a specific cause may indicate the presence of an anxiety condition, such as social anxiety disorder.


Anxiety is frequently caused by stress or a sense of being overwhelmed.
Anxiety can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
Work or school pressure
Financial pressure
Family or relationships problems
Divorce, separation, or bereavement
Concerns about parenthood or being a caregiver
Worry about the environment or climate change
Changing life situations, such as moving house or changing jobs
Reduced mobility or physical function
Loss of mental function, for example, short-term memory
Having a diagnosis of a chronic health condition

It might also be related to another issue or a health condition, such as

A phobia
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Genetic factors
Major stress or susceptibility to stress
A history of drug or alcohol abuse
Excessive caffeine use
The use of some medications
A recent or past traumatic experience

Anxiety triggers could include:
Exposure to public speaking triggers fears of having a panic attack.
Anxiety is not always logical. For example, a person may be concerned about losing their work while not indicating that this would occur.




The stress and anxiety response assists the body in dealing with temporary tough conditions.
The hormone adrenaline is implicated in the fight-or-flight response. A quick release of this hormone prepares the body to run or physically fight danger.
Under normal circumstances, adrenaline levels quickly return to normal when the fear trigger is removed. However, more complications may occur if worry persists and adrenaline levels remain up. Chronic stress and worry can develop to additional issues such as an anxiety disorder or depression.
Ongoing stress may also be linked to immunological, digestive, sleep, and reproductive system issues.

Anxiety can cause the following physical health issues:
Stomach ulcers
Heart problems
If stress and anxiety become overpowering or chronic, taking action or seeking treatment is critical.
Anxiety and associated disorders can be treated using a variety of methods, including

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
Medications, such as some types of antidepressants
Support groups for people with specific conditions

Anyone feeling overwhelmed by stress or worry should seek help from a health professional. Getting care as soon as possible may help avoid further issues from occurring.
If a person is considering getting professional assistance, visiting someone fully trained and certified is critical. This website provides tools for locating a certified psychologist in your area.

Suicide prevention


If you know someone who is in imminent danger of self-harm, suicide, or harming another person:
“Are you thinking of committing suicide?”
Listen to the other person without passing judgment.
To contact a certified crisis counselor, dial 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741.
Stay with the individual until professional assistance comes.
Remove any weapons, drugs, or possibly dangerous things.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, a suicide prevention hotline can assist. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline may be reached at 988 anytime or night. People who are deaf or hard of hearing can utilize their favorite relay service or call 711 then 988 during a crisis.


Lifestyle tips

Knowing the signs might help you manage stress and anxiety. People who understand how to spot the indicators of stress or anxiety may be able to take action. Headaches, difficulty sleeping, and overeating signal that it is time to take a break or get assistance.

Recognizing personal triggers: People may be able to take action if they can learn to understand what causes them to feel nervous. Keep a diary to keep notes of triggers.

Eating a healthy diet: A hectic lifestyle might lead to poor eating habits. Make an effort to sit down to a nutritious meal or prepare lunch with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Lunch should include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Exercising: Regular physical activity can improve mental health and boost a sense of well-being.

Learning relaxation techniques such as breathing, meditation, and aromatherapy can help reduce tension and anxiety.

Trying a new activity: music, gardening, choir, yoga, Pilates, or another group may help to relieve tension and distract you from your troubles for a time. People may come across people who share their issues and experiences.

Spend time with friends and family, or locate an organization where you may meet new people, such as volunteering or joining a support group. People may be able to discover people who can offer emotional and practical help.

Setting goals: If people feel overwhelmed by financial or administrative issues, making a plan may assist. Set goals and priorities, then check them off when they are completed. A strategy may also assist people in saying “no” to more requests from others that cause them anxiety.



Anxiety is a sensation of concern, anxiety, or uneasiness about a certain circumstance or event that can occur as a result of stress. People may experience restlessness, nausea, or stomach churning. An anxiety episode may seem like a sudden terror with no threat.
Panic episodes are heightened feelings of dread, terror, or discomfort. People may feel out of control, or their lives are in danger. Panic attacks can sometimes manifest as a sudden sensation of anxiety in the absence of a threat.
Frequent panic episodes might indicate a panic disorder.
If anxiety is interfering with daily living, or if people are experiencing symptoms of panic disorder, they can consult with a healthcare expert to explore coping strategies or treatment choices.

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