Difference Between Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Anxiety vs Panic Attacks

Anxiety and panic attacks are reaction to stress or a fearful condition. Anxiety is defined as physiological and psychological state characterized by somatic, emotional, cognitive and behavioral components. In simple words it is a reaction of an individual to a stressful event. Feeling of fear, uneasiness and worry are the key features of anxiety. Anxiety is normal till certain limit. However it is classified as anxiety disorder when it exceeds the limit. We all experienced anxiety anticipating stressful events. Performance anxiety is a good example to explain. Before an exam or stage performance, you may feel some acid secreting feeling in the stomach, sweating and uneasiness, that is a kind of anxiety. During the stressful conditions, our sympathetic system is activated. The hormone adrenaline and noradrenaline will be elevated in the blood. The effect of the sympathetic stimulation will be expressed as physical symptoms. Excessive heart beat, palpitation, increased breathing, sweating and pupil dilatation are some of those symptoms.

Panic attacks are sudden onset of fearful experience. Unlike anxiety, only a small portion of the people may experience the panic attack. In simple words, panic attack is a severe reaction to a fearful condition. Patients with psychological disorders may experience the panic attacks even with out a fearful situation. Patient may feel that he/she is about to die. They complain severe chest pain or difficulty in breathing. The onset and the complaints may mimic the heart attack, however the symptoms will be relieved when the panic attack is subsided.


• Both anxiety and panic attacks are reaction to stress / fearful condition.

• Anxiety will be normal if it is in normal limit. We all experience anxiety in our life.

• Panic attack is severe in appropriate form of reaction to a stress.

• Only small portion of the people experience the panic attack.

• Anxiolytic drugs may be used to treat the anxiety disorder.