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Valentina Carlile Osteopata
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Anxiety and panic attacks, what's the difference?


Anxiety and panic attacks, what's the difference?

Anxiety and panic are terms that are very often used interchangeably, whereas in reality they are two disorders with different characteristics. Let's clarify things a little.


Panic attacks are defined by the DSM-5 as disorders that are part of anxiety disorders, they can appear suddenly and are characterized by physical symptoms such as:

• acceleration of the heartbeat

• labored breathing

• feeling of tightness in the chest

• increased sweating

• feeling of fainting (feeling faint)

• detachment from reality and disorientation

• blurred vision

• loss of control of one's person


This phenomenon tends to repeat itself if in the presence of the same situation that triggered it the first time but it can also manifest itself in an isolated manner or after years.


The classic anxiety disorder, better defined as generalized anxiety, does not have the characteristics of panic attacks, and is instead characterized by:

• frequent episodes of excessive and disproportionate worry about an event or circumstance

• constant restlessness

• easy tiredness

• difficulty concentrating

• disturbed sleep

• difficulty taking a breath

• palpitations

• dry mouth

• sensation of lump in the throat

• frequent urge to urinate

• hand tremor

• ringing in the ears


The therapies currently in use are cognitive-behavioral therapies and pharmacological therapy such as antidepressants such as SSRIs and serotonin inhibitors. In the most acute and transient cases, benzodiazepines are used.

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