Mental Health; Anxiety disorders and Panic Attacks


It is often wondered whether a panic attack can be likened to an anxiety disorder, do they mean the same thing or is there a clear-cut distinction between both conditions? One thing that can be said about these two conditions is the fact that they are both mental health conditions that affect a large number of people from kids to teenagers and even adults. 

An anxiety disorder as the words imply refers to an overwhelming feeling of or excessive display of worry about life, family, unforeseen circumstances, or just the future. Is it normal to worry sometimes as humans? Yes, it is but with an anxiety disorder, you worry more than you should even when there is literally nothing to be worried about, it is often characterized by a feeling of helplessness or hopelessness, depression, and an inability to function properly.

Panic attacks on the other hand are sometimes a function of an anxiety disorder. They are mostly characterized by a sudden feeling of intense fear or worry.  However, panic attacks mostly occur as a result of fear of the unknown and are based on a perceived threat rather than imminent danger. Panic attacks if overlooked can lead to more severe medical conditions and this is because of the shock and terror it usually comes with. Anyone who has experienced a severe panic attack may experience pain in the chest similar to a heart attack.


Both panic attacks and anxiety disorders are mental health conditions that can be diagnosed and treated. There are several reasons why a person can have an anxiety disorder or experience panic attacks and some of these reasons include the following;

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD

People who suffer from PTSD often experience anxiety from remembering or reliving moments in their life where they might have gone through a really painful or intense ordeal. This would leave them with anxiety attacks and in some cases panic attacks depending on the situation.

Physical Trauma

People who have endured physical torture or pain will often experience panic attacks whenever they are reminded of their experience. This could be from bullying, domestic violence, war, an accident, etc. at the sight of similar experiences they can immediately relieve the moment which can cause them to freeze or be in shock most of the time.

Emotional Abuse

Men and women who have suffered emotional abuse more often than none suffer anxiety disorders. This is because at the core of emotional abuse is a constant ripping apart of the very essence of the victim, causing them to lose their voice, question their self-worth, feel like they are not enough, and constantly live in fear of what could become of them all of which are recipes for an anxiety disorder.

Social Anxiety Disorder

In this context, this relates to anxiety and fear that comes with being in public spaces and social gatherings. Most people experience this kind of anxiety at least once in their lifetime, especially as children and teenagers. While some get better over time others never seem to recover from this and even exhibit physical characteristics such as shaking, freezing, a cracked or shaky voice, and panic attacks whenever they find themselves in such gatherings or get together.

Family or Relationship Induced Anxiety

Oftentimes, people develop anxiety from either family-related trauma or relationship trauma. For children who don’t receive love and support from family or adults who are in failed or toxic relationships, there can be a build-up of negativity which can go on to become depression and ultimately lead them to live life constantly worrying or thinking about what could have been. In relationships, men and women who suffer some kind of trauma have challenges letting go of past hurt and oftentimes are unreceptive to moving on to better and healthier relationships, and even when they do, they hold on to past events which could build tension in their new relationship.


Just like with relationships, getting a new job, a change or switch in career paths, stagnancy in career, and zero work-life balance can cause a person to experience an anxiety disorder. Some people experience panic attacks when they go for job interviews or even when interacting with their superiors or bosses which can affect their overall performance. Dealing with overzealous bosses at the workplace is the sole reason why many workers actually have workplace anxiety as they are in constant expectation of the worst and this is certainly no way to live.


What Can You Do?

  • Prioritize your mental health always
  • Be mindful of the people around you at all times; some people only worsen your anxiety while some others help you through it
  • Sometimes facing or challenging your fears rather than running away from them is the key to overcoming them.
  • In severe cases you may need to take anxiety medications; see a specialist
  • Talk to a therapist to get the help you need
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