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The terms “anxiety attack” and “panic attack” have been used interchangeably because they do share common symptoms. However, both behavioural patterns are distinct from one another.

Here’s how to differentiate it.

Panic attacks

A panic attack occurs suddenly and involves an intense and often overwhelming fear. A person having a panic attack will experience a racing heartbeat, nausea, or shortness of breath.

A panic attack also lasts for minutes as compared to an anxiety attack which can last for months.

The symptoms of a panic attack include:

  • Headache and dizziness
  • Sweating profusely
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Muscle aches
  • Tightness in the throat or feel like you’re choking
  • Feel like you’re dying and it causes fear
  • Uncontrollable fear

According to Verywell Mind, a panic attack also causes a sense of detachment from the world derealisation) and a detachment from the self (depersonalization).

Image: TRP File

Anxiety attack

Unlike a panic attack, an anxiety attack generally intensifies over time. An anxiety attack develops gradually because it’s usually related to the anticipation of a stressful situation or experience.

In an anxiety attack, you know the source or the “triggers” of your anxiousness such as someone yelling or scolding you.

Some of the symptoms of an anxiety attack are:

  • Muscle tension
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Headache and dizziness that lasts long
  • Feeling fatigued even if you didn’t do much
  • Empty mind or blur
  • Struggle to focus and keep imagining worse case scenarios

How to manage it?

To treat either panic or anxiety attacks, it’s helpful to use a combination of strategies which can involve prescribed medications, therapy, and self-help techniques.

Self-help techniques are tools anyone can use to work through the symptoms at their own pace.

This could be breathing exercises, grounding exercises to help bring focus back or even workouts like yoga to calm the self.

If you or a loved one is struggling with anxiety or panic attacks, do not be afraid to seek professional help and guidance.

READ MORE: The Complete Guide to Counselling & Mental Health Therapy Services in Klang Valley

Here’s a list of helplines:

Mental Health Psychosocial Support Service
Tel: 03-2935 9935 or 014-322 3392

Talian Kasih
Tel: 15999 or Whatsapp 019-2615999

Befrienders KL
Tel: 03-7627 2929

Talian Buddy Bear (For children, toll-free, 6pm-12am)
Tel: 1800-18-BEAR or 1800-18-2327
FB Messenger: buddybear.humankind

MySejahtera Digital Healthcare
In the app, under ‘More,’ click on ‘Digital Healthcare’ and then click on ‘Minda Sihat.’

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