What’s The Difference Between a Panic Attack and an Anxiety Attack?
Work Wellness

What’s The Difference Between a Panic Attack and an Anxiety Attack?

|Oct 12, 2022

Our workplaces come with lots of inevitable daily challenges. Though some of the challenging situations at work are for our benefit and help us succeed, sometimes stress and anxiety can cause serious health problems. As proven by many types of research, many adults face several mental and physical implications of uncontrolled stress and worry at work.

This might lead to anxiety attacks at work or even workplace burnout for employees. Though anxiety symptoms at work are often ignored until the situation worsens, thankfully, there are many ways to control the anxiety at work. Especially in modern workplaces, the awareness regarding anxiety attack symptoms and performance anxiety work has become more prevalent, so employers are now focused on taking care of their employees at every level. In this article, you will find all you need to know about a panic attack vs. anxiety attack and how to help someone suffering from this situation.

What is an Anxiety Attack?

What is an Anxiety Attack?

Anxiety is a natural aspect of the body's emotional and defense mechanisms. It is referred to as an anxiety disorder when it persists for a long time, is severe, and interferes with daily life. The term "anxiety attack" is not a recognized diagnosis, even though several anxiety symptoms can feel like an attack. Common symptoms:

  • Difficulty in Concentrating
  • Irritable mood
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of sleep
  • Increased heart rate
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lack of energy
  • Muscle pain and tension
  • Fatigue
  • Increased heart rate

What is a Panic Attack?

What is a Panic Attack?

Panic attacks are prevalent health conditions where a person experiences a sudden rise in anxiety level and discomfort that takes a toll on both mental and physical health completely. A panic attack comes with several physical and mental symptoms. Panic attacks are episodic and they emerge with slight symptoms that can fully develop within a few minutes of hours.

Most of the time, panic attacks come on suddenly without a clear, immediate cause. However, in some circumstances, they are "anticipated" because the dread is brought on by a recognized stressor, like a phobia. A panic attack has both mental and physical symptoms:

  • Unreal feelings
  • Fear of losing control
  • Feeling crazy
  • Fear of dying and loss of self
  • Chest pain
  • Excessive sweating suddenly
  • Choking
  • Nausea
  • Dizzy and unsteady composure
  • Chills
  • Shaking
  • Shortness of breath

How Do Anxiety Attacks and Panic Attack Differ?

How Do Anxiety Attacks and Panic Attack Differ?

The dreadful feeling where you find the air not enough to breathe when your heart beats at a much faster rate and the sense of distress through the entire body, this situation is often considered an anxiety or a panic attack. Anxiety and panic attacks are used interchangeably, but when it comes to knowing and studying them deeper, the terminologies are much different.

Clinical Difference

The main clinical difference between the two types of attacks is mainly described based on the intensity and duration of the symptoms. Panic attacks are episodic and usually peak for 10 minutes until the body starts to feel normal again. On the other hand, anxiety can be a continuous phenomenon in someone's life and even last for months.


Symptoms of anxiety attack at work

Even though we often classify panic attack symptoms and anxiety attack symptoms similarly, some differences help in the right diagnosis. A sudden panic attack lasts for minutes when a person starts to tremble or shake. Panic attacks are accompanied by chest pain and hot flashes, which are easily identifiable physically. People with panic attacks often zone out and suddenly feel detached from the environment.

On the other hand, anxiety is gradually built and can last for months. It gives a feeling of constant restlessness, having minimum energy, muscle tension, poor gut health, and loss of interest in daily activities. It also shows an irritable mood and poor digestive health.


While anxiety attacks at work can range from mild to severe, panic attacks have more acute and intense symptoms. The key distinction is that while both have similar physical and psychological symptoms, only panic attacks can involve feelings of dread, fear of passing away, losing control, and separation.

Causes of Panic and Anxiety Attack

Anxiety or panic attacks are highly common globally, with almost every 2 in 5 people experiencing some symptoms of anxiety and panic. While for some people, these are genetic, sometimes the surrounding situation can also build them and even intensify them. Here are some causes of panic and anxiety attacks.

  • Stressful Job
  • Drug Withdrawal
  • Trauma
  • Over Consumption of Caffeine
  • Reminders of Horrible Past Experiences
  • Exposure to a Phobia
  • Financial pressure
  • Toxic work environment
  • Lack of confidence
  • Experiencing a Big change in life

How to Deal with A Panic and Anxiety Attack?

It is crucial to remember that anxiety and panic attacks have only had a small impact on a person's daily life for a while because these feelings are somewhat typical for humans.

If panic or anxiety attacks at work are interfering with your ability to carry out daily tasks, it's worth seeking help. Here are several strategies for handling and supporting an attack.

Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle Changes

A poor lifestyle where you don't pay enough attention to your mental or physical health can often show up as anxiety or panic attacks. Hence it is important to take care of your physical health to perform well mentally. Lifestyle changes such as exercise, having a proper diet, and making shifts in your work regime are known to help with anxiety greatly.

Avoid caffeine, practice meditation, set a proper work-life balance, and follow an active lifestyle. In office workers, overworking affects mental health and physical stress because sitting all day can cause serious anxiety. It is better to work ergonomically and enjoy the health benefits of a standing desk.

Take Breaks

As much as our physical body gets tired, our mind needs rest too. Not taking frequent breaks or rest days once in a while can lead to serious depression and permanent mental problems. Hence search about how to get time off work for stress and anxiety and try to communicate your anxiety situation with the boss.


Seeking professionals' advice or help will do much better than you can imagine. Mental health professionals can help you deal with anxiety and panic attacks in a better way. They can help with mental block depressionanxiety of phone calls, and other serious anxiety symptoms affecting an individual's daily routine.

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