What Is the Difference Between Panic and Anxiety Attacks?

June 30th, 2021 in General Counselling
What Is the Difference Between Panic and Anxiety Attacks

Panic attack and anxiety attacks are two terms that are often used interchangeably. However, while there may be some similarities, it is important to realize that the two terms do not describe the same disorder.

With that being said, it can be difficult to differentiate between the two. They have several similar symptoms, most notably chest pain, that make them seem identical. But there are key distinguishing characteristics as well. If someone you know is struggling, these are the symptoms to look for.

Identifying Panic Attacks

Panic attacks tend to be more intense than anxiety attacks and they can appear without an obvious trigger. Panic attack symptoms are often intense and disruptive. Panic attacks are short, as the attacks come on suddenly and usually subside after a few minutes.

In addition to being panic-stricken, symptoms of a panic attack include:

  • A pounding heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Lightheadedness/dizziness
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Nausea
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Stomach pain,
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sudden excessive fears
  • A choking feeling

Some people experience depersonalization and may even feel detached from themselves during a panic attack.

Identifying Anxiety Attacks

Anxiety attacks are common in most individuals but are usually linked to certain issues, such as brain trauma or PTSD. The anxiety is often brought on as a response to a perceived threat. The symptoms vary in intensity, and the effects can range from mild to severe. Unlike panic attacks, anxiety symptoms change gradually, becoming more intense over time and they can last for days or weeks.

Symptoms of anxiety attacks include:

  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Fear
  • Muscle pain
  • Loss of concentration

Some people may have the feeling of being smothered or choked, which can lead to a loss of sleep, rapid heart rate, tingling or numbness in the extremities, worry and distress, and shortness of breath.


To get a proper diagnosis of the condition, an individual should visit a professional. A counsellor will easily tell the difference between a panic attack and an anxiety attack. They can provide patients with the resources needed to mitigate their effects in the future.

Kuldip Counselling and Consulting has two convenient locations in Surrey and Langley. They offer counselling services and compassionate therapy in the areas of addictions counselling, and family and marriage counselling.

If you have any questions about this article or would like to schedule an appointment, please call (604) 764-9575.