General Anxiety vs Panic Attack

The most common mental illnesses in the U.S. are anxiety disorders. In fact, they affect more than 40 million adults, or 18.1% of the population. Such anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA) reports that only 36.9% of people suffering choose to receive treatment.

What is a panic attack? Described as short bursts of intense fear, these episodes are often marked by increased heart rate, chest pain or shortness of breath. They usually last under thirty minutes and may come on suddenly and without reason. A panic attack may be mistaken for a heart attack, as the fear can be so crippling that it may accompanied by extremely intense physical sensations. Up to 11% of Americans experience a panic attack every year.

Individuals experiencing recurrent panic attacks may have a condition known as panic disorder (PD). PD is a type of anxiety disorder affecting roughly 4.7% of U.S. adults at some point in their lives. Women are twice as likely as men to develop PD and it typically presents in young adulthood, with roughly half of all people developing the condition before age 24

What does treatment look like? It varies depending on the diagnosis and the severity of symptoms. Typical options include medication — such as antidepressants or beta-blockers — therapy, lifestyle changes or a combination of treatment methods. There are several types of therapy that can help manage symptoms and decrease sensations of fear and excessive worry. They include cognitive therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy or new, innovative methods such as ketamine infusion therapy.

Much can be done to help alleviate anxiety and restore quality of life for those suffering. For additional treatment options and more information on the differences between anxiety and panic attacks, please see the accompanying resource.

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