In todayís fast-paced world, some people find themselves overwhelmed by worries that interfere with their ability to function. Daily activities become almost impossible as the person experiences a variety of physical and psychological symptoms. Anxiety and panic attacks may afflict up to 8% of the adult population. Both anxiety and panic can be seen as overreactions to everyday situations, many of which are social. The differences between anxiety and panic are very often subtle.
Anxiety usually centers on excessive worrying about job, health, relationships, etc. Anxiety needs professional treatment if it bothers you every day for a period of several weeks or months. During an anxiety attack you might feel dizzy, lightheaded or short of breath, or have heart palpitations. Your heart may race, and you might sweat or have an upset stomach or muscle pains. Irritability, restlessness and jitteriness are also common symptoms of anxiety. But the strongest and most debilitating sign of an anxiety attack is a feeling of overwhelming apprehension Ė the fear and worry that something terrible might happen and you are powerless to prevent or control it.
The primary difference between anxiety and panic is that panic afflicts the sufferer in a sudden or unexpected way. Unlike anxiety, which has ongoing symptoms, panic is episodic Ė a sudden overwhelming sense of terror overtakes you. You might feel some of the symptoms of anxiety like a rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath or lack of control. Unlike anxiety, during a panic attack you might intensely feel that youíre about to die or go insane. Itís also possible to feel that you might hurt yourself or someone else.
But itís the sudden, unexpected onset of panic that differentiates it from anxiety, which is more of a continued process over a longer period of time.
If you think youíre suffering from anxiety or panic attacks, you should seek psychological counseling or psychiatric therapy. Often, treatment involves cognitive training and/or behavior modification. Medication can be effective when combined with counseling or therapy, and support groups can be especially helpful. Itís important to remember that these conditions are treatable and controllable. Donít let anxiety and panic attacks overwhelm you and control your life.