Anxiety vs. Panic Attacks

anxiety or panic attacks

Most people have experienced anxiety in one form or another. Sometimes it is experienced as a feeling of stress and overwhelm associated with a certain situation. Other people struggle with anxiety disorders and chronic anxiety. Panic disorder is another mental health disorder in which the sufferer experiences frequent panic attacks. In the last decade, panic attack awareness and available treatment have increased. While panic attacks may seem similar to general anxiety, understanding the differences between the two is important and plays a big role in ensuring proper diagnosis. 


Panic Attacks 


Panic attacks can come on very suddenly. The experience includes overwhelming fear or panic, as the body’s fight or flight response kicks in and takes over. The physical symptoms feel extremely real and are intensified as each second passes. These symptoms can include shortness of breath, nausea, increase in heart rate, hyperventilation, and even fainting. Often, panic attacks happen unexpectedly. These cases can be frustrating and scary for the person suffering from them because they are unsure of when one will hit. On the other hand, panic attacks can sometimes be anticipated. Increasing awareness around daily stressors that tend to trigger panic attacks is a big part of the recovery process. Additionally, panic attacks can be acute or chronic, lasting a few months for some and years for others. Regardless, having more than one panic attack is typically a sign of a panic disorder.




Anxiety is more commonly experienced as a result of identifiable external stressors rather than unknown stimuli. It can be mild, moderate, or severe. It is commonly ongoing and subtle. Typically, anxiety is experienced frequently throughout daily activities, yet it is not completely disruptive to the day. Panic attacks, in comparison, are severely disruptive. Anxiety can come in piecemeal, whereas panic attacks are extreme and abrupt. 


Understanding what you are suffering from is crucial in order to learn how to cope effectively. Contacting a professional is the first step towards recovery since this provides you with a professional diagnosis and clear direction on the next steps of your healing journey. Additionally, practicing meditation and breathing techniques can help ease your symptoms in moments of distress. Above all, it’s important to know that there is help available to you and that you don’t have to navigate it all on your own. At Avalon Malibu, we specialize in mental health and substance use treatment. We offer a variety of healing modalities that help our clients cope with anxiety and panic disorders. Call us today to learn more, at (844) 857-5992.

We will work with most out of network PPO policies

Call 888-835-8075 to verify your insurance benefits today!
Blue Cross Blue Shield
Health Net
Blue Of California