Online since 2002 |   866-316-0162

Articles and News

Panic Attack vs. Anxiety Attack – What's the Difference?

Panic Attack vs. Anxiety Attack – What's the Difference?
Linda Guerrera

We have often heard the terms, but is there a difference between a panic attack and an anxiety attack? Is one more serious than the other? How do you know what distinguishes one from the other? Let's dive a little deeper and uncover the differences between these two conditions.  

Panic Attack vs. Anxiety Attack  

The terms' panic attack' and 'anxiety attack' are often used interchangeably. However, there are some big differences between the two. First, it is important to note that the term' panic attack' involves specific criteria and is a clinical term, while 'anxiety attack' is not a recognized or defined term.   

While these two conditions can feel similar, there are specific differences that set them apart from each other. These differences are important to understand the underlying issues and how to deal with them. Let's look at each one separately:  

What is a Panic Attack?  

A panic attack comes on suddenly as a debilitating, out-of-control feeling or extreme fear. They typically occur without a trigger; however, they can be provoked by a situation, phobia, memory, or even a specific object. A panic attack typically lasts a short time, usually less than 30 minutes. There are several symptoms that come along with a panic attack; they include:  

  • Nausea  
  • Sweating  
  • Trembling  
  • Chest pain  
  • Rapid heartbeat  
  • Shortness of breath  
  • A feeling of choking  

What is an Anxiety Attack?  

An anxiety attack comes on gradually rather than that out-of-the-blue feeling of a panic attack. An anxiety attack can have the same symptoms. However, they are generally less intense and last longer than a panic attack. An anxiety attack is typically triggered by chronic stress or a response to extremely worrisome situations. Those who suffer from anxiety attacks may also be dealing with anxiety-related conditions such as generalized anxiety disorder or social anxiety disorder. Symptoms of an anxiety attack include:  

  • Sweating  
  • Restlessness  
  • Increased heart rate   
  • Feelings of fear or worry   

People experiencing anxiety attacks may be dealing with generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, or another anxiety-related condition.  

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of anxiety or panic attacks, it is important to seek professional help to determine the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment and support.  

Examples of Panic Attack and Anxiety Attack 

The symptoms may seem very similar, the differences are what determines whether it is a panic attack or an anxiety attack. Let’s look at two different scenarios that explore how these two conditions differ. 

Example of Panic Attack -

Nancy is in the produce section of the grocery store. Suddenly, she feels like she cannot catch her breath; her heart is racing, and her palms are sweating. She has an overwhelming feeling of doom and feels like she may pass out. She feels completely out of control and has no idea what triggered this feeling. This lasts for about 15 minutes, and she begins to calm down. This is a classic example of a panic attack. It came on suddenly and intensely with no apparent trigger and lasted only 15 minutes.   

Example of Anxiety Attack -

Work has been very stressful for Joe over the last few weeks. He is constantly worried and feels very tense and restless. He isn't sleeping well at night and has been feeling very stressed out for weeks. During a meeting at work one day, he felt like he couldn't concentrate and had this increasing feeling of dread. This feeling continues after the meeting and throughout that evening and the next day. While there is no clinical term for this prolonged feeling of increasing anxiety and chronic stress, it is often referred to as an anxiety attack and typically brought on by a specific trigger.   

These two scenarios clearly show the difference between a panic attack and an anxiety attack. Nancy's experience began suddenly without a trigger and only lasted for a short period of time. Meanwhile, Joe's situation had been building for weeks, continued though the next day and is clinically seen as a symptom of an anxiety disorder such as GAD (generalized anxiety disorder).   

Panic attacks and anxiety attacks are often interchangeable terms, but you can see they are different conditions. If you or a loved one is suffering from either, talk to a mental health professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment. The sooner you address the issue, the sooner you will feel better and improve your quality of life.   

Products To Help Manage Stress



Disclaimer: All content found on our website, including images, videos, infographics, and text were created solely for informational purposes. Our reviewed content should never be used for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Content shared on our websites is not meant to be used as a substitute for advice from a certified medical professional. Reliance on the information provided on our website as a basis for patient treatment is solely at your own risk. We urge all our customers to always consult a physician or a certified medical professional before trying or using a new medical product.


HPFY Linda Guerrera

Linda Guerrera

LinkedIn Profile


Linda Guerrera has been the Digital Content Manager for Health Products For You since 2022. A recipient of the New York State Broadcasters Award for Outstanding Work in Radio, she spent over ...

Continue reading

Trending Articles

Enteral Feeding: The What, When, and How

Shweta Chaubey

When traditional oral intake is not feasible, enteral feeding comes into play. It supports nutritional needs of individuals recovering from an injury or surgery. Dive into this informative article and learn what, when, why, and how of enteral feeding and ensure optimal patient care.

Using the Carpal Solution Carpal Tunnel Wrist Support

Kevin Cleary

Looking for a non-invasive option to manage carpal tunnel symptoms? Experience relief from constant tingling and pain with this Carpal Solution Wrist Support. Read this article to know about the unique features and benefits of this wrist support brace designed to deal with CTS and find why it is one of the most reliable wrist braces available on the market.

Top 5 Best Reviewed Nebulizers of 2023

Kevin Cleary

Need an effective and affordable nebulizer? Look no further, in this article we offer 5 of our best reviewed nebulizers that are loved by our customers. Click to read more and find the perfect nebulizer for all your respiratory needs.

10 Best Overnight Adult Diapers

Shweta Chaubey

Worried about nighttime leaks? Say goodbye to leakage with our ten best overnight adult diapers and wake up refreshed and dry.

Five Best Cervical Traction Devices of 2023

Taikhum Sadiq

Neck pain can wreak havoc on your otherwise healthy life. Traction device improves your cervical health and overall well-being. Read more to find our best cervical traction devices designed to curb the stiffness and discomfort of cervical muscles.