Panic Attacks Vs Panic Disorder

panic attacks vs panic disorder

Panic Attacks vs Panic Disorder

Panic attacks are a sudden feeling of intense and disabling stress or anxiety. They tend to last anywhere between ten minutes and several hours.

In reality, we go through Panic Attacks when we experience sudden and intense feelings of fear and anxiety. They can occur to us at any time of the day, even when we may be feeling relaxed.

Although scary, panic attacks are not dangerous. But, what if they keep recurring frequently?? Could it portend a more significant problem? Continue reading to find out more.

Panic Attacks

The physical symptoms of a panic attack are a result of the response of our body’s sympathetic nervous system.

The typical symptoms we experience during panic attacks include:

  • racing heartbeat
  • difficulty breathing, feeling as though you “can’t get enough air”
  • terror that is almost paralysing
  • dizziness, lightheadedness or nausea
  • trembling, sweating, shaking
  • choking, chest pains
  • hot flashes, or sudden chills
  • tingling in fingers or toes (“pins and needles”)
  • fear that you’re going to go crazy or are about to die

Some of these symptoms, such as racing heartbeat, chest pains can be mistaken by us for a heart attack, especially if we are experiencing our first episode of a panic attack.

During a panic attack, we may feel as though we are losing control. We may also have a feeling of impending doom or think that we are detached from ourselves or the reality.

Generally, Panic Attacks last between 10 and 20 minutes, but their effect can linger on for many more hours. Often, the reason for the panic attack’s occurrence is not apparent. Maybe they were a one-time occurrence or something that would happen on rare occasions. But, if panic attacks keep recurring, they point that we may be suffering from a panic disorder.

Panic Disorder

If we are suffering from panic disorder, we will have frequent panic attacks. Unlike a one-off panic attack, these recurring and pronounced attacks are often tied to situations that have caused troubles to us before. Sometimes the simple fear of having another panic attack when we are placed in an uncomfortable recurring situation can cause enough anxiety to us to trigger a panic attack.

Such fears lead to a vicious circle of panic attacks. When people continue experiencing these symptoms, they tend to avoid past situations which have caused them panic attacks in the past.

The exact cause of panic disorder is unknown. However, they are still treatable. Mostly, they are treated through psychotherapy or by using self-help strategies. Experience teaches us that these therapy sessions are usually enough to mitigate the problem. Sometimes, circumstances require that clients take medication to aid recovery.

Also, learning more about what you are likely to feel during a panic attack can help you feel more relaxed while they occur. Reading a book on anxiety or panic attacks can be helpful. However, the best course of action for us is to talk to our doctor or psychologist. They are always the best choice to help us back on the path to recovery.


If you are just experiencing a single panic attack, you shouldn’t consider it as panic disorder. On the other hand, if you are suffering from an untreated panic disorder, it can cause a large number of unhealthy panic attacks and pose even further complications in your life.

Please remember, if you feel that you are suffering from panic disorder, seek help from your GP or Psychologist, before the issue starts to have a negative impact on your life.


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