By Christopher Granger

Nowadays, a point of contention is the difference between anxiety and panic attacks. These two are classified as disorders that affect millions of people, yet many therapists and physicians do not agree how they differ. Aside from the disagreements between these specialists, scientific sources are also unable to come up with a clear cut definition of either one. For these reasons, it is not surprising that a number of people are misdiagnosed with some specialists claiming they are ‘depressed.’ Adding to the confusion is that people with social anxiety are lumped together with those who are suffering from panic disorder.

This is quite unfortunate because it is highly inaccurate to say that those suffering from panic attacks are despondent with their condition. In fact, the medical term ‘dysthymic’ is associated with those people who became anxious and became depressed because of it. Moreover, when people are able to overcome their anxiety, their despondency disappears as well.

Defining Anxiety


This disorder is not related to a person’s physical condition or illness. Most of the time, a person will feel anxious if he is the focal point of attention or he is displayed unwittingly. Trouble begins when a person is forced to interact with the group that he is not comfortable with. He begins to feel morbid if certain topics are related to his being. Moreover, there is fear in his heart that he might be criticized, looked down at, embarrassed or singled out.

To illustrate the case in point would be a birthday party for a person who feels anxious when exposed to people. Typically, he or she should be enjoying his or her big day, but ends up fearful and dread the thought of being talked about. Sometimes, they feel that they are being set up to do something foolish which of course has no basis at all. Some people will label others with this disorder as shy, quiet, or introverted. This does not help at all because the latter will feel that they may be embarrassed or humiliated by other people.

Defining Panic Attack

As further proof about the difference between anxiety and panic attacks, those who are prone to panic attacks feel that there is something wrong with them physically. When panic attack hits, a person will feel that his chest is tightening up so he feels that he is having a heart attack. Others feel that they are becoming insane while some feel that they are losing control of themselves. Still, there are people who feel they are suffocating to death, but in fact, they are just short of breath. Lastly, some individuals feel that they have an undiagnosed disease that can kill them.

However, these feelings are exaggerated because they are just suffering from dizziness or feel lightheaded. When they are brought to the hospital, doctors will explain to them that they are not suffering from a physical condition. Instead their panic attacks are the ones causing the ‘pain.’ At the end of the day, people will know the difference between anxiety and panic attacks that they will be much prepared to handle either of the two.

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