What's The Difference Between A Panic Attack And An Anxiety Attack?

woman experiencing discomfort

Do you know the difference between an anxiety attack and a panic attack? Not a lot of people know that there’s a difference but there most certainly is, by knowing this we can learn how to better manage both attacks before, during and after they occur, and perhaps learn how to prevent them too - quite possibly life changing stuff!


What is an anxiety attack and what are the symptoms?

Anxiety attacks are a result of gradually built up stress, often from distrurbed sleep, muscle tension, irritability and worry. Unlike panic attacks which come on quick and fast, anxiety attacks occur after a prolonged period of stress, worry and anxiety, and are often linked to anticipation of a stressful situation.

The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) doesn’t recognise anxiety attacks, however it does define anxiety as ‘a feature of a number of common psychiatric disorders’.

When experiencing an anxiety attack you will most likely experience feelings of fear, worry and distress, with the only emotional difference being that during an anxiety attack you are unlikely to fear death or feel detached from your surroundings (2 key emotional symptoms of a panic attack).

The physical symptoms of an anxiety attack can be mild, moderate or severe, with feelings of shortness of breath, chest pain, accelerated heart rate, nausea, a dry mouth and feeling faint, all the same physical symptoms as a panic attack.


What's The Difference Between A Panic Attack And An Anxiety Attack?


What is a panic attack and what are the symptoms?

A panic attack comes on suddenly, leaving the person experiencing overwhelming fear, accompanied by intense physical symptoms of a racing heartbeat, chest pains, breathlessness or nausea.

Panic attacks are recognised by the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), and can be both unexpected or expected, they are often brought on by external stressors such as phobias, they don’t discriminate and can happen to anyone, however having more than 1 can be a telltale sign of panic disorder.


What are the risk factors of anxiety and panic attacks?

Both anxiety and panic attacks have very similar risk factors, which include:

  • Living through traumatic events as a child or adults.
  • Experiencing a stressful life event, such as divorce or loss of a loved one.
  • Ongoing worry and stress. For example, this can be from relationship, financial, conflict or personal stresses.
  • Living with a life-threatening illness, or having a close family member with one.
  • Having a mental disorder, such as depression or bipolar.
  • Having a natural anxious personality.
  • Having family members who have anxiety or panic attacks/disorders.
  • Use of drugs or alcohol.

A lot of these factors can’t be helped, however if you are experiencing ongoing periods of worry or stress in your life practising mindfulness to help reduce stress and promote relaxation may help. If you like a glass or wine or two in the evenings or on the weekend, limiting this and avoiding it totally when experiencing worry and stress will help to prevent anxiety attacks.


How to use aromatherapy to help with anxiety and panic attacks?

Practising mindfulness can be beneficial in helping calm and prevent panic and anxiety attacks. As you discovered earlier, anxiety attacks are brought on by long periods of stress or worry, but practising mindfulness and taking time out each day to relieve stress will help to diffuse your stress and calm anxiety.

Panic attacks are slightly different, and come on abruptly, however after having one, people often fear and worry about having another in the future. Taking a step back and managing stress can help to reduce these feelings of worry.

If you suffer with panic or anxiety attacks take 5 minutes out of each day to stop, inhale and reset with the Scentered DE-STRESS Wellbeing Ritual Aromatherapy Balm. This soothing balm contains chamomile, neroli and mandarin, 3 essential oils to relax your body and mind. Simply apply the balm to your pulse points (temples, neck and wrists), inhale, exhale and take a step into the next moment of your journey.

Pair your DE-STRESS Aromatherapy Balm with the DE-STRESS Home Aromatherapy Candle. Made with the same essential oils, this candle will enable you to practise mindfulness at home, and soothe your mind.


DE-STRESS Wellbeing Aromatherapy Balm

Click here to shop the rest of the DE-STRESS range.