Anxiety attacks and panic attacks are the same.
The National Institute of Mental Health categorizes anxiety attacks under the classification Panic Disorder. Anxiety attacks are often also referred to as Panic Attack Disorder or Anxiety Attack Disorder. Anxiety attack disorder is included in the overarching category of Anxiety Disorder.
Those who experience anxiety attack disorder are not alone. It’s estimated that 19 percent of the North American adult population (ages 18 to 54) experiences an anxiety disorder, and 3 percent of the North American adult population experiences anxiety attack disorder. We believe that number is much higher, since many conditions go undiagnosed and unreported.
While everyone experiences brief episodes of intense anxiety from time to time, and a great many people experience one or two anxiety attacks over the course of their lifetime, anxiety attack disorder occurs when these attacks become frequent or persistent, begin interfering with or restricting normal lifestyle, or when the individual becomes afraid of them. Once established, anxiety attack disorder can be very debilitating.
Anxiety attack disorder generally starts with one unexplained attack that causes the individual to become concerned. As other attacks occur, fear of having anxiety attacks, what they mean, what the associated symptoms mean, and where the attacks and symptoms may lead, increases. This escalation of fear is often the catalyst that brings on the attacks, causing the individual to be seemingly caught in a cycle of fear then panic, then more fear, then more panic, and so on.
An anxiety attack can be described as a sudden attack of fear, terror, or feelings of impending doom that strike without warning and for no apparent reason. This strong sensation or feeling can also be accompanied by a number of other symptoms, including pounding heart, rapid heart rate, sweating, lightheadedness, nausea, hot or cold flashes, chest pain, hands and feet may feel numb, tingly skin sensations, burning skin sensations, irrational thoughts, fear of losing control, and a number of other symptoms. (While other symptoms often do accompany anxiety attacks, they don’t necessarily have to.)
An anxiety attack can last anywhere between a few moments to 30 or more minutes. It’s also common for subsequent attacks to follow, causing the overall anxiety attack experience to last much longer as one episode is followed by another episode. Even though the attack episode eventually ends, it’s common for the symptoms and after effects of an attack to linger for hours or even days, depending upon the severity of the attack.
The highest incidence of the onset of anxiety attack disorder occurs in the 17 to 25 years of age range. But people from all age groups can experience anxiety attacks. Many people remember having them as children (anxiety attacks that occur in childhood are often misunderstood as feeling “sick” or the onset of the flu).
Anxiety attack disorder is reportedly more likely to develop in women than in men, however, the statistics may be misleading because men are more reluctant to seek professional help.
Anxiety attack disorder is often misunderstood. Many sources claim that anxiety attack disorder is genetically or biologically caused, or both, because it commonly occurs in families. But research has yet to find any medical or scientific evidence to support these claims.
Based on our personal and professional experiences with anxiety and anxiety disorders, we know that the factors that cause anxiety disorders are learned, and therefore are behavioral and NOT genetically inherited or biologically caused.
Yes, anxiety disorders DO have a biological component, but the biological component is a RESULT of our behaviors and NOT the initial CAUSE of them.
And yes, it is common for anxiety disorders to run in families, but it’s because of environmental factors, NOT genetic factors.
Anyone who has experienced anxiety attack disorder will tell you that anxiety attacks can be frightening and severely debilitating. But anxiety attack disorder IS fully reversible, and anyone can do it with the right information, help, and support.
Anxiety attack disorder is best treated early. Conditions allowed to persist often become more complicated, and consequently, lengthier to treat.
Nonetheless, anxiety attack disorder at ANY stage is fully resolvable. When the right information, help, and support are combined with effort and application, anyone can do it.
Our experience has shown that the most effective treatment for anxiety attack disorder is the combination of good self-help information and Personal Coaching/Counseling/Therapy. Since the underlying factors that cause anxiety attack disorder are learned, generally a professional therapist is required to help uncover, identify, and successfully address them. Working with a professional therapist ensures that these underlying factors are effectively addressed.
And because the underlying factors associated with anxiety disorders (including anxiety attack disorder) are learned, there are no “quick-fix remedies or cures” for anxiety disorders. Treatments that claim “miracle or secret cures” should be avoided.
That said, we want to encourage you. Anxiety attack disorder is fully resolvable when it is approached in the right way. And anyone can do it. There’s no reason to suffer needlessly.
The worst thing you can do is nothing! Anxiety attack disorder, like other anxiety disorders, almost never goes away by itself. The longer nothing is done, the more entrenched it can become. Early intervention is the best course of action.
When I (Jim Folk) was suffering with severe anxiety disorder including intense anxiety attacks, many people told me that I might have to live with it (and be on medication) for the rest of my life. I'm glad I didn't follow their advice.
“I recovered because I learned what to do, and then applied what I learned. This same approach works for everyone.” – Jim Folk
All of us at anxietycentre.com have recovered using the same approach. It works, because it has to. When you do the right things, you get the right results.
If you are experiencing anxiety attacks, an anxiety disorder or stress disorder, you can regain control of your health...naturally and permanently. You can live a normal life again...and medication free!
Anxietycentre.com was established to help others succeed. Because of our own struggles with debilitating anxiety, we are passionate about helping others regain their health and normal lives, as we have.
Again, don’t suffer needlessly. You can conquer your anxiety disorder and eliminate your anxiety symptoms, and for good. We are committed to helping you do that.
Panic disorder often co-exists with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Depression, Stress Disorder, and Sleep Disorder / Insomnia.
For more information and recovery support, become a member and learn how to overcome your struggle with anxiety attacks.
Authors: Jim Folk, Marilyn Folk, BScN. Last updated April 2015.