Difference between anxiety attack and panic attack

Anxiety and panic attacks might sound the same, but they’re actually quite different. They have different signs, things that can set them off, and how long they last. Knowing these differences is important to help people who have them. Keep reading to find out what makes anxiety attacks and panic attacks different!

What are the differences in symptoms?

Onset and duration

Here’s a simple way to understand it: anxiety attacks are like a slow build-up, like when you’re gradually getting more worried about something and it can last for a while, even hours or days. Panic attacks, on the other hand, come out of nowhere and hit you really fast, like a surprise, but they don’t last as long – usually just a short time.


Panic attacks are like a sudden explosion of intense feelings, both in your body and your mind. People who have panic attacks often say it’s like a huge wave of fear that’s really hard to handle, almost like everything becomes too much. On the other hand, anxiety attacks are less intense but more like a low-level worry that sticks around for a longer time, making you feel uneasy or nervous for an extended period. So, panic attacks are like a sudden storm, and anxiety attacks are like a steady drizzle of worry.


Anxiety attacks usually happen when there’s something specific bothering you, like problems at work, relationships, or money. Your brain gets all worked up about those things. But with panic attacks, they come out of nowhere, like a surprise attack by your own body and brain. You might be relaxing, and suddenly, you feel super scared and out of control, even if there’s no obvious reason for it. So, anxiety attacks have a reason, while panic attacks are like surprise guests crashing the party in your head.

Physical symptoms

Both anxiety and panic attacks can make your body feel weird, but panic attacks make it feel way weirder and faster. Imagine your heart racing like a sports car, feeling dizzy like you spun around too much, and thinking that something really bad is about to happen – that’s what a panic attack can feel like. Anxiety attacks can also affect you physically, but they’re heavy on the worrying part. This is like your brain can’t stop thinking about stuff that’s bothering you. So, panic attacks are like a rollercoaster for your body, and anxiety attacks are more like a marathon for your thoughts.

Cognitive focus

Alright, so when you have an anxiety attack, it’s like your brain gets stuck on something that’s stressing you out, and you can’t stop thinking about it. It’s like having a spotlight on your worries. But with panic attacks, it’s different. Your brain suddenly zooms in on how your body feels, like your racing heart and shaky hands, and it makes you super scared, like you’re about to lose control or go crazy. So, anxiety attacks are all about your mind being stuck on problems, and panic attacks are more about your body freaking out and feeling like things are spinning out of control.

Duration of distress

Anxiety attacks can stick around for a long time, like when you’re feeling nervous or worried about something for days or even weeks. It’s like a never-ending worry loop in your head. But panic attacks are different – they hit you fast and hard, but they don’t last long. The really intense part, like feeling super scared and your heart racing, only lasts for a few minutes. So, anxiety attacks are like a long-lasting uneasiness, while panic attacks are like a sudden storm that blows over quickly.

What causes panic attacks and anxiety attacks?

The reasons why people get panic or anxiety attacks can be complicated. It’s usually a combination of your genes, experiences (like tough incidents or constant stress), and how your brain chemicals work. Your personality can play a role too – if you’re a perfectionist or easily get really anxious, that can make you more vulnerable to panic attacks or anxiety attacks.

But here’s the deal, it’s different for everyone. What causes panic or anxiety attacks for one person might not be the same for another. So, if you think you’re dealing with either of these, it’s important to talk to a professional who can figure out what’s going on with you and come up with a plan to help you feel better.

What should I do if I suspect I may have panic attacks or anxiety?

If you think you might be going through panic or anxiety, it’s important to take action. Step one is talking to a doctor or a mental health experts, like a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist. They’ll figure out what’s going on and make a plan to help you feel better. Next, don’t be afraid to lean on your friends and family – they can be a big help too. Remember, asking for help is a sign of strength, and there are ways to get better for you to live a more fulfilling life.

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