Difference Between Panic And Anxiety?
By Ryan Light, Running/Anxiety Coach
What Measures Can You Take to Overcome Them?
What Is The Difference Between Panic and Anxiety? Controlling panic attacks is integral to a happy future if you want to overcome anxiety disorder. But to be in control, would you rather learn how to deal with each attack or would you rather find out how to stop the panic attacks coming in the first place? So rather than controlling panic attacks, lets have a think about overcoming anxiety disorder altogether. The best way to do this is to understand what and why an attack happens.
Fear and anxiety are experiences that everyone has from time to time. Fear is a response, behavioral, emotional and physical to an event, immediately recognized as an external threat (oncoming car). Anxiety is an unpleasant, distressing state of uneasiness and nervousness. Causes of stress are less clear less tied to the exact timing of a threat. It can occur in anticipation of a threat, continue after a threat has passed or occur with no identifiable risk. It is often accompanied by changes and behaviors similar to those caused by fear.
Anxiety can be adaptive helping one to prepare, rehearse and function in a satisfactory way. It can also help one be appropriately cautious in situations that are potentially dangerous. However, if anxiety occurs beyond a particular level, it causes dysfunction and distress. Then it is manipulative and classified as a disorder.
So what is a disorder? What is a panic attack? What is the panic disorder? What are anxiety and anxiety disorder? Is there a difference between a panic attack, panic disorder, anxiety and anxiety disorder? Much of the time, they are used interchangeably; As the saying goes: “It only takes one panic attack to know you never want another one.” But again, what, exactly is a panic attack? Mental Health Professionals depend on a manual, DSM-IV-TR for diagnoses, descriptions, treatments for most pathological mental problems. Information is restricted to the questions above. It is easy to get confused. I found myself getting confused when I started to research various ways of treating these conditions.
What Does This All Mean?
The word “disorder” is used in several pathologies of mental function.
- Disorder – A derangement or abnormality of function, a morbid physical and mental state.
- Anxiety – Everyone feels anxious sometimes; it is a part of life. However, if anxiety is so high that it interferes with one’s life, then it is used as a general term referring to worry and fear and a general feeling of “something is wrong”.
- Anxiety disorder – This is a classification from the DSM-IV-TR. Other mental disorders are grouped under this general term. These are:
- Panic attacks – A panic attack is a sudden, intense feeling of fear accompanied with an overwhelming sense of danger. Uncomfortable and frightening physical symptoms accompany this feeling. Some of the symptoms are: rapid heart beat (do I have a heart attack?), rapid breathing, (I can’t get my breath; am I suffocating?), profuse sweating, Once someone has a panic attack, it is very likely they will experience another one so that panic attacks may occur repeatedly. They then feel anxiety about having another attack.
- Panic disorder – Is a condition where Panic Attacks occur frequently. Panic attacks can occur with Agoraphobia or without Agoraphobia (fear of going to or being in a particular place or situation) Agoraphobia can get so bad that an individual will not go out of their house. Often they will not go to a place where they have already had a panic attack. Apparently, this condition leads to a very unsatisfactory, dysfunctional state.
- GAD or general anxiety disorder – An anxiety disorder characterized by irrational worry about everyday matters. It can and often does interfere with daily functioning. Often there are physical symptoms, such as fatigue, headaches, nausea, muscle aches, numbness in feet or hands. For a diagnosis of GAD to be made, the symptoms must be consistent and long lasting for at least six months.
Anxiety & Panic What Is The Difference
Sometimes panic attack and anxiety attack are used interchangeably. However, in a clinical sense, they are not the same. An anxiety attack is not defined in the DSM-IV-TR. The term used is an anxiety disorder or General Anxiety Disorder. Anxiety Disorder differs from Panic Disorder in that Anxiety Disorder lasts for a long time; it seems to be constant in one’s life. You wake up feeling anxious, feel anxious all day and go to bed feeling anxious. This also leads to a dysfunctional, unsatisfactory life. It is important to get treatment for both GAD and Panic Disorder as both can be extremely disabling. Life for victims of either or both of these disorders is very unpleasant, interfering drastically with a person’s life. Sometimes a person will have both disorders, Panic and GAD. Treatment is available. There are several treatments ranging from psychotherapy, exercise, and medications.
What Happens If I’m Suffering From Panic Attacks?
Proper perspective is key and know that a panic attack is a physical response to an Adrenalin rush might help you. The Adrenalin rush is caused by high anxiety. You suffer panic attacks because your ‘background’ anxiety level is so high, it only takes a little thing to send you over the metaphorical edge. To get this straight – anxiety disorder is a psychological problem, not an illness or disease, just a problem about the way you think. Panic attacks are a symptom that happens every time you go over the edge. Your anxiety can be high for any number of reasons, but the first part of overcoming anxiety disorder is to bring your day to day anxiety levels down.
- If there is something that is awful but it does not directly affect you – don’t worry about it. Global macroeconomics is not something you can change so don’t worry about it.
- If there is something that does affect you but you cannot change – let it go. Michael Jackson’s death is tragic, but it will not change your life at all.
- If there is something that affects you and you can change it – do something about it. Speak out if someone is bullying you or bothering you. Tell them about it.
And remember, the worst that could happen is probably not as bad as you think!
If you want to overcome anxiety disorder, there is a good chance you fear what other people will think of you. My advice is to understand that most people don’t think about other people that much. It is you that make this a cause of anxiety, not them. Finally, don’t fall into the self-fulfilling cycle of worrying about having another panic attack. This fear will raise your anxiety levels and increase your chances of having another panic attack. The best thing to do is learn how to let go. You cannot die from an Adrenalin rush nor an attack – so let go of that fear. By doing this you can start to lower your overall anxiety levels.
Looking for an anxiety coach? Please reach out to contact me as I’ve helped dozens of people beat their anxiety and get back to living life.
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