Anxiety vs. Panic Attacks

Florida Psychiatrists


While panic and anxiety attacks are seen as interchangeable events that mean the same thing, in reality, they are very different. Being able to identify the differences between these two can help with getting the right treatment.


While panic and anxiety disorders and attacks share many similar symptoms, they are clinically very different. Panic disorder is usually the cause of a panic attack while an anxiety attack isn’t officially defined yet. An anxiety disorder is a broad term that covers many other specific disorders like OCD and PTSD. The real difference between panic and anxiety attacks is the causes, the symptoms, and the duration and intensity of them.

Anxiety Attacks

Anxiety attacks happen because of a stressor, usually an event or situation. Anxiety intensifies over a period of time before becoming an anxiety attack. It’s usually over an excessive worry about potential dangers or threats. Anxiety attacks are usually less intense than panic attacks but the symptoms can last longer, for days, weeks, or even months.

Common symptoms of anxiety attacks include:

  • Feeling out of control
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Trembling
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness
  • Numbness

Panic Attacks

A panic attack and an anxiety attack can feel very similar to each other. They share a lot of the same symptoms. What sets a panic attack apart from an anxiety attack is that they appear suddenly. They tend to be more intense, but they are shorter, peaking within 10 minutes before subsiding.

A panic attack is characterized when four or more of the following symptoms occur:

  • Heart palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
  • Excessive sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Feeling of choking
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling of unreality
  • Loss of control
  • Numbness or tingling


Florida psychiatrists want you to know that despite the overwhelming loss of control you feel during a panic or anxiety attack, there is help for them. Multiple treatment options are available to help with these attacks as well as any underlying disorders that cause the attacks. Therapy, medication, and self-help strategies, either alone or in combination, has been effective in treating panic and anxiety attacks. Contact one of Florida’s top psychiatrists to get help today.



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