The difference between anxiety and panic attacks

Young man sitting an exam

Lots of young people are embarrassed to ask for help with anxiety.

A new report suggests that four in five 18 to 34-year-olds put on a "brave face" when they're feeling worried and don't really know what to do about it.

Mental health charity Mind says that a fifth of the people they surveyed admitted to crying in the past week while feeling anxious, which they say is a common and useful response to dealing with it.

But what is anxiety and how does it differ from having a panic attack? And what can you do if you're feeling anxious?

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is the feeling of being nervous, uneasy, anxious and awkward or feeling that you've been forced into an uncomfortable situation.

At times it's quite manageable but sometimes it can be extremely overbearing and hard to control.

The most frustrating aspect of having anxiety is how it seems to get overlooked or not taken seriously.

That's because it can be quite hard to determine, to yourself and others, how to recognise that you have anxiety or have had an anxiety attack.

There's more help about dealing with anxiety at BBC Advice.

How anxiety differs from a panic attack?

Anxiety and panic attacks are two different things, although it can be hard to identify the symptoms.

How to spot an anxiety attack

    • You feel awkward, anxious, uneasy or nervous.
    • Feel doubtful of your self-worth - and self-confidence.
    • Feel faint, light-headed, disconnected from the surrounding area.
    • Easily irritated, breathing becomes heavy, muscles become sore.
    • Twitching, trembling, shaky feelings, palms start to sweat.
    • Continuous crying, feeling of hopelessness.
    • Difficulty concentrating or remembering things.
    • Focusing on upsetting events that have happened in your life.
    • Repeated conversations of people's voices in your head.
    • Feeling of wanting to escape from your surrounding area or situation.

Panic attacks happen when your body's nervous system feels like it is under attack or in danger.

You immediately feel loss of control of your body. These attacks can, at times, last a few minutes or a few hours.

Anxiety is there all the time; you can feel it in the background, in the subconscious of your mind.

When you experience periods of anxiety it tends to manifest in general nervousness or awkwardness in a situation.

To help you identify if you've suffered with the symptoms of an anxiety attack here are the top 10 relatable signs.

Woman suffering from anxiety

Top tips for dealing with anxiety

Courtney Lee Deakin started having anxiety attacks at university.

She says it's important not to "taunt yourself" and to breathe. Listening to cheerful music helps too.

These are her tips.

The best way of actually telling whether someone is feeling anxious or not, is just waiting for them to speak to you with confidence, knowing that they can trust you, that you will not judge them and that you have an open mind.

One in four people at university every year deal with anxiety attacks, so here are some tips on dealing with it.

1. Breathe - Although this sometimes I know does not always work and that's fine. Starting to control your breathing will calm your mind and body down.

2. Write down all the things that you're worried about and try to keep your life organised so that you won't panic.

3. Have confidence in telling your friends and family that you deal with anxiety attacks.

4. Take yourself out of the situation that you feel awkward in.

5. Think positively about your self worth.

6. Don't taunt yourself with negative comments. This brings down your self-confidence and causes your anxiety attacks to happen more frequently.

7. Maintain a balance of good sleep and control stress.

8. Listen to happy upbeat music or watch happy films - like Disney.

9. Count to 10 in your head to help you calm your emotions down.

10. Speak to a doctor if it gets too serious and out of control.

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