Anxiety disorder or panic attack, oh my

In this post I will discuss anxiety and panic as these two terms are oftentimes being used interchangeably. More so, the word attack is frequently attached to either one and both are often used to mean the same thing. Technically this isn’t right.

All mental disorders are classified in a special manual, DSM 5 or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition. It doesn’t have Anxiety Attack listed at all, but it has Anxiety Disorder as well as Panic Attack.

This in itself is very telling. The mere word disorder implies a relatively slow process that can last a long time, whereas the word attack suggests a sudden onset, often without warning, intense, doesn’t last long and usually ends up in the same way it started. You can think about an attack as a blood sugar spike that promptly drops, while a disorder is more like Type 2 Diabetes that tends to develop rather slowly.

Anxiety is a normal emotion and a natural body response to just about any stressful situation. This however isn’t always a bad thing. Generally, anxiety is a part of a fight-or-flight protective response to a real or perceived danger. This response calls for your attention to a problem at hand and motivates you to seek a solution. And boy, did it motivate me to do just that. I posted about it only a few hours ago.

If however anxiety persists, becomes constant and affects your everyday life, then it is a disorder. Anxiety Disorder is usually a reaction to a stressor and has a slow onset, while a Panic Attack is generally unprovoked and occurs suddenly.

The symptoms of Anxiety Disorder are less intense than those of a Panic Attack. They can include worrying, difficulty concentrating, restlessness, increased heart rate and breathing, heart palpitations, trembling, numbness, or being detached from yourself, etc. The treatment can include therapy, meds, self-help or a combination of these.

The main difference between the two is that anxiety is a reaction to a stressor and is longer lived than a panic attack does. Attack, on the other hand, starts suddenly, is intense and occurs without a warning. Like, out of the blue. A single panic attack can peak within about 10 minutes and then subsides. However if a few panic attacks occur in a succession, then all of them together can last longer than a single attack and it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins.
As far as my own reaction to my car problems, now I don’t think that I had a panic attack; it was more like anxiety that right now all but gone.

Then again, my procrastinating nature kicks in that tells me, whatever unfolds, it’s tomorrow but not today. Take it easy and procrastinate for the time being.  On top of it all, I am able to function and my life doesn’t fall apart on that account. Admittedly I was anxious that motivated me to seek a solution, part 2 of which is to be continued tomorrow. And this whole incident doesn’t feel like the end of the world. Here’s to hoping it won’t turn out to be anything big, knock on the wood.

Will post about the types of anxiety next. Stay tuned.


This entry was posted in anxiety, diabetes, Panic, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Anxiety disorder or panic attack, oh my

  1. CYAN says:

    Nice article! Struggling with such a disorder, it’s important to tell yourself again and again: it’s a scientific thing that’s going on in your head. And articles like yours help to understand that better.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anna says:

    Thanks for the kind words. I read your post and have to tell you this, it’s a beautiful story, I truly enjoyed it. I like the content of your blog 🙂


  3. Ow! You always write interesting things! I know a person who suffers from panic attacks and that is a whole complicated situation, but she’s making such positive progress after started tha treatment. Keep the good work you do in your blog!

    I know that is not the subject but if you have time, I also did a post inspired by the one word prompt PANIC:

    Have a nice day!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. kkeevins says:

    “Pain in the neck?” For sure!
    –Kathy from:

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Berni says:

    You indeed got very strange skills of explaining psychological stuff to lay men. Never before I read an article that was so clear yet so insightful.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Berni says:

    I thought my anxiety was spontaneous and continuous because I used to link Anxiety with Insomnia.

    Now I believe insomnia may not be due to anxiety. I’ll anxiously wait for further insight on Anxiety, Panick Attacks and Insomnia.

    Thank you for helping me understand my problems.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.