People often use the terms panic attack or anxiety attack to refer to the same experience. However, there are key differences between a panic attack vs. anxiety attack. Knowing the differences can help your teenager get the right treatment if they suffer from panic attacks or anxiety attacks regularly.
Furthermore, understanding the difference between the two conditions can help your teen manage the symptoms. This is especially true if either condition is triggering an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Like adults, teenagers may often turn to a substance as a form of self-medication. While this occurs more with anxiety disorders, stress can also cause a teen to turn to substance abuse.
Let’s take a closer look at how you can identify the differences and similarities between a panic attack vs. anxiety attack.
Signs of Panic Attack vs. Anxiety Attack
While some of the symptoms of an panic attack vs. anxiety attack do overlap somewhat, there are some distinguishing features of each that you can look for in your teenager including:
- Pounding heartbeat
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Sudden chills or hot flashes
- Tingling in the arms or legs
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Stomach problems such as nausea or sharp pain
- Tightness or pain in the chest
- Dry mouth or feeling hydrated
- Fear or paranoia mixed with agitation
- Sudden spasms or pain in your muscles
- Rapid heartbeat
- Feeling like someone is choking or smothering you
There are other symptoms that both have in common such as loss of concentration, an overall feeling that something is wrong, inability to sleep or function, and an intense amount of worry or distress. Both a panic attack vs. anxiety attack can wear out your teen emotionally and make them feel tired all of the time.
What Causes an Attack?
A teen who suffers from a panic or anxiety attack can tell you that nothing has to trigger it. Sometimes these attacks can come on without warning and then disappear as fast as they came. However, there is generally some underlying factor that is connected to the attack. Some of the most common causes of attacks include:
- A tremendous amount of stress at work
- Problems in your relationships
- Nicotine, caffeine, drug, or alcohol addiction
- Body chemistry or chemical imbalance
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Phobias or high level of fear – real or imagined
What Type of Treatment Is Available for Attacks?
Substance abuse can both trigger panic attacks or anxiety and get worse because of either. You may drink alcohol to self-medicate or calm down after an attack. Likewise, your drug addiction may be causing you to have more anxiety.
Dual diagnosis treatment is available for both anxiety and panic attacks. You can meet with a therapist to discuss dual diagnosis treatment for both your anxiety and your drug or alcohol addiction. By getting the right treatment you can address both issues and overcome the symptoms. To find out more about what treatment is available for panic attack vs. anxiety attack, call Foothills at Red Oak at 866.300.5275.