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The difference between an anxiety attack and a panic attack.

Anxiety attacks and panic attacks are both intense and overwhelming experiences, but they have some key differences.

Anxiety attacks, also known as anxiety or stress reactions, are typically triggered by specific stressors or events and are characterized by feelings of apprehension, uneasiness, or fear. They can involve physical symptoms like sweating, trembling, and a racing heartbeat, but they usually do not reach the intensity of a panic attack. Anxiety attacks can last for several minutes to hours and can often be managed by identifying and addressing the underlying stressor or by using relaxation techniques.

Panic attacks, on the other hand, are sudden and intense episodes of fear and discomfort that can occur without warning and often have no obvious trigger. They are characterized by physical symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, sweating, and a feeling of impending doom or loss of control. Panic attacks typically reach their peak within 10-15 minutes and can last for up to an hour. People who experience panic attacks may also develop a fear of having future attacks, which can lead to avoidance of certain situations or places.

In summary, anxiety attacks are typically triggered by specific stressors and involve feelings of apprehension or fear, while panic attacks are fear and discomfort that can occur without warning or an obvious trigger.

Both can involve physical symptoms, but panic attacks are typically more intense and last longer.

TIPS to help anxiety and panic attacks:

  • Practice deep breathing: Take slow, deep breaths through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth. Focus on your breath and try to slow it down.

  • Engage in muscle relaxation: Starting at the top of your head, tense and then relax each muscle group in your body, working your way down to your toes.

  • Use grounding techniques: Focus on your senses and notice what you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel. Name objects or colors around you. This is also called the 5,4,3,2,1 technique.

  • Challenge negative thoughts: Identify any negative thoughts that may be contributing to your anxiety or panic and challenge them with positive and realistic self-talk.

  • Use distraction techniques: Focus on a positive distraction, such as counting backwards from 100, repeating a positive affirmation, or listening to calming music.

  • Practice mindfulness: Bring your attention to the present moment and notice your thoughts and feelings without judgment or attachment.

  • Seek support: Reach out to a trusted friend or family member for support or seek professional assistance.

Remember, everyone's experience with anxiety and panic attacks is different, so it's important to find what works best for you. Seeking professional help can also provide additional support and guidance in managing anxiety and panic attacks, this may look like a combination of modalities such as a counsellor, psychologist, GP, and naturopath. Having a team to support all areas of your bodily systems and functions is key.


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