Differences between anxiety and panic disorder

Is it anxiety or is it a panic attack? People often use the terms interchangeably, however, the two are different. Anxiety is characterized by excessive thoughts and feelings of irrational fear and worry, whereas a panic disorder is characterized by episodes of panic attacks, which are accompanied by physical symptoms. While it is true that feeling anxious can also cause an increased heart rate, dizziness, and shortness of breath, there are key differences between anxiety and panic disorder.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety is defined as an abnormal and overwhelming feeling of apprehension and fear, often marked by physical signs. Anxiety can make you anticipate the worst, whether due to the nature of the threat or due to self-doubt, and it can make you feel restless, tense, and jumpy.

It’s normal to feel anxious from time to time, but if you experience anxiety too often and for reasons that are irrational, you may have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), which is a mental illness that causes you to have disproportionate responses to situations. It can interfere with your ability to function normally at work, at home, or in relationships. Anxiety can take over your life and become overwhelming.

Symptoms of a Panic Disorder

A panic disorder is characterized by recurrent panic attacks. Compared with an anxiety attack, a panic attack is much more intense and severe, but lasts for a shorter period of time. The physical symptoms can last anywhere between a few minutes to an hour. The symptoms include palpitations, sweating, trembling, lightheadedness, a feeling of being choked or smothered, chest pain, and abdominal symptoms.

Anxiety and panic disorders do have shared symptoms, which explains why you may confuse one with another. Both are marked by persistent or severe worry of real or imagined threats, and both produce physical symptoms. However, anxiety is marked by a persistent feeling of worry, whereas panic attacks come in short bursts that fade away. A psychiatrist is an expert in treating mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders and can diagnose what type of disorder you have.

Why a Diagnosis Is Important

A diagnosis is the first step to recovery. Knowing what type of mental illness you have is vital to the treatment process. Anxiety disorders are treated individually, meaning no two approaches are exactly alike. Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet less than 50 percent of people seek treatment for the condition.

Psychiatrist in New York, NY, and Southbury, CT

Your genetics, personality, brain chemistry, and life experiences play a role in the development of an anxiety disorder. At Psy-Visions, we take an individualized approach to treatment, since no two people are exactly alike, and each has unique life experiences.

Dr. Mark Stracks creates customized treatment plans that address the underlying causes of anxiety disorders and is an expert in treating adult and adolescent patients. Our patients love his calm and comforting demeanor.

It’s time to get the help you need. It could make a big difference in your life. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Stracks, call Psy-Visions at (718) 887-2918 for New York or (203) 405-1745 for Connecticut. You can also fill out our contact form to request an appointment.

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