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"Could the symptoms I'm experiencing be a panic attack? How can I tell the difference between anxiety and a panic attack?"

Panic attacks are not the same as anxiety attacks.

Anxiety attacks are a feeling of worry or nervousness, whereas panic attacks are sudden, intense episodes of fear or discomfort.

The peak symptoms of a panic attack usually occur within 10 minutes, but can last anywhere from 1-60 minutes.

During a panic attack, your body's "fight or flight" response is triggered, releasing stress hormones like adrenaline, which can cause physical symptoms like a racing heart and sweating.

Panic attacks can be triggered by internal stimuli, such as memories or emotions, rather than external stimuli, like a specific situation or event.

People with panic disorder may experience avoidance behaviors, such as avoiding places or situations that might trigger a panic attack.

Panic attacks can cause physical symptoms like chest pain, which can be mistaken for a heart attack.

The physical symptoms of a panic attack can be so intense that they can lead to a fear of having another attack, creating a cycle of anxiety and avoidance.

Panic disorder is more common in women than men, and women are more likely to experience panic attacks during times of hormonal change, such as during menstruation or menopause.

Panic attacks can be triggered by certain medical conditions, such as hyperthyroidism or mitral valve prolapse.

Panic attacks can occur even when a person is asleep, and can be triggered by sleep disorders like sleep apnea.

The brain's amygdala, which processes emotions, is hyperactive in people with panic disorder, leading to an over-response to perceived threats.

Panic attacks can be treated with medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and benzodiazepines, as well as therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

Breathing techniques, such as diaphragmatic breathing, can help reduce symptoms of a panic attack by slowing down breathing and promoting relaxation.

People with panic disorder are at higher risk for other mental health conditions, such as depression and substance abuse.

The most effective way to manage panic attacks is through a combination of medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise and stress management techniques.

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