Panic Attacks Vs Anxiety Attacks: What’s the Difference?

There’s a good chance you’ve suffered from anxiety and panic in the past few months while we’ve all been living through this pandemic. Feeling this way in response to an incredibly stressful situation is completely normal, but if anxiety and panic are left unchecked and they go on for a long time, it can be very detrimental to your physical and emotional wellbeing.

You might begin to suffer from panic attacks and anxiety attacks. Panic and anxiety are terms that are often used to mean the same thing, but panic attacks and anxiety attacks are actually quite different.

Panic v Anxiety

In this blog, I want to shed some light on the differences between panic attacks and anxiety attacks and how hypnotherapy can help you conquer them for good.

Panic attacks versus anxiety attacks

You might experience one or the other, but you can experience both at the same time, for example, you can wind yourself up and get so anxious about a situation that you have a panic attack. If you’re not sure which are affecting you, here are the main differences.

Panic attacks

·         Panic attacks come on very quickly and they are accompanied by an intense overwhelming fear. Sufferers tend to experience frightening bodily symptoms too, like palpitations, chest pain, shortness of breath, and nausea. Some people actually go to A&E because they are convinced they are having a heart attack or that they are going to die. This is caused by the body’s ‘fight or flight’ system going into overdrive.

·         Panic attacks can happen unexpectedly or in response to something that the sufferer is afraid of, like being in a crowded place.

·         Sufferers fear having another attack, so tend to avoid situations which provoke anxiety.

Anxiety attacks

·         Anxiety tends to build more gradually than panic. It’s possible to go around day to day and function with anxiety, but when it’s severe, it can be very disabling.

·         People who suffer from anxiety tend to feel worried or fearful about an upcoming situation or event. The anxiety can build up so much that when the situation or event comes around, it can provoke a panic attack. If we use the COVID-19 pandemic as an example, anxiety could have occurred in response to fears about health, loss of income, worries about the future; all the ‘what if?’ questions and worst case scenarios our mind likes to feed us.

Common triggers for panic and anxiety attacks

There are some situations in life that commonly trigger anxiety and panic such as:

Stressful life events like bereavement or divorce

Dealing with everyday stressors like family problems, work stress, or financial worries

Having a life-threatening illness

Witnessing/being involved in something traumatic

Driving

Social situations like meeting new people or public speaking

Phobias

I regularly see clients who are struggling to deal with things like this and much more.

Self-help for anxiety and panic attacks

If you’re suffering from panic or anxiety attacks, your GP should be your first port of call. They might suggest talking therapy like CBT or counselling, or medication in some circumstances.  But aside from this, there are things that can help reduce the frequency and severity of the attacks.

If you feel like you’re going to have a panic or anxiety attack:

Take slow, deliberate deep breaths

When you’re anxious, your breathing tends to be quick and shallow which only increases the stress response in the body. Deep breathing creates a relaxation response. Breathe in through your nose for a count of four and out through your mouth for a count of four.

Reassure yourself

In the middle of an attack, it can be very frightening, but try to remind yourself that this has happened before and you have always been okay.

Use grounding techniques

A useful thing to do when you’re having an anxiety or panic attack is to try the 5,4,3,2,1 method.

·         Look for 5 things, wherever you are, name them, and focus your attention on them.

·         Listen for four sounds you can hear.

·         Touch three objects. Think about how they feel.

·         Notice two different smells.

·         Taste something, whether it’s a sip of tea or a square of chocolate.

This will really help you stay in touch with reality and the present moment.

Change your lifestyle

You can prevent or manage anxiety and panic attacks by making some proven lifestyle changes like:

·         Finding ways to deal with stress better, like meditation or relaxation.

·         Trying holistic treatments like hypnotherapy that are proven to reduce anxiety.

·         Exercising regularly- yoga and walking are excellent for creating calm and encouraging a mind/body connection.

·         Eating healthily and limiting your alcohol and caffeine intake.

How hypnotherapy can help with anxiety and panic attacks

Hypnotherapy delves into the subconscious mind and helps to change anxious and unhelpful thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. It can help you learn to relax your body and mind, gain clarity about what you really want from your life and how you want to feel, and be in control again.

Together we can address what’s behind the anxiety and panic, even if it means we have to look back into the past and clear the way for a new happier and healthier way of living.

Does this sound like something you need right now?

Get in touch to find out how I can help you. Anxiety and panic doesn’t need to rule your life any more, there is a better way!

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