Many people are unaware that there is a profound difference between anxiety attacks and panic attacks.

An Anxiety attack is a psychological and somatic reaction to a stressor. Anxiety attacks are often predictable and cease once the stressor is removed or goes away.

A Panic attack is characterized by psychological and somatic symptoms which are similar to Anxiety attacks but are not a reaction to a stressor.  Rather, Panic attacks are unprovoked and unpredictable.

Though they are very different from each other, anxiety and panic attacks may have similar symptoms.


Panic Disorder is characterized by recurring panic attacks (see above) which cause intense fear and may cause physical discomfort including heart palpitations; shortness of breath; nausea; abdominal distress; sweating and/or muscle trembling.  The attacks are so severe they create anxiety about experiencing them in the future.


Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by constant and intense worry about any topic/situation such as thoughts of impending disaster and excessive concern about family, health, work, and money. People with GAD struggle to control their worries and may expect the worst even when there is no reason for concern.  GAD symptoms include restlessness; irritability; fatigue; muscle tension; difficulty concentrating; and/or sleep disturbance.


Social Anxiety Disorder is intense anxiety or fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in a social or performance situation. People with a social anxiety disorder may worry about acting or appearing visibly anxious (stumbling over words; sweating; blushing), or being viewed as stupid, awkward, or boring. As a result, they often avoid social or performance situations, and when a situation cannot be avoided, they experience significant anxiety and distress. This fear can significantly impair work, school, and other day-to-day activities. It can even make it hard to make and keep friends Many people with a social anxiety disorder also experience strong physical symptoms, such as a rapid heart rate, nausea, and sweating, and may experience full-blown attacks when confronting a feared situation. Although they recognize that their fear is excessive and unreasonable, people with social anxiety disorder often feel powerless against their anxiety.


A specific phobia is an intense, persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, situation, or activity, or person. Usually, the fear is proportionally greater than the actual danger or threat. People with specific phobias are highly distressed about having the fear, and often will go to great lengths to avoid the object or situation in question. Phobias do not always stem from trauma and may develop suddenly and without explanation. Also, the fear or anxiety may be triggered both by the presence and the anticipation of the specific object or situation.  In some cases, extreme fear can result in a panic attack. Although the person may logically know the fear is unreasonable, it remains difficult to control the anxiety. Thus, this condition may significantly impair a person’s functioning and even physical health.


Unspecified Anxiety Disorder does not meet the exact criteria for any other anxiety disorder but is significant enough to be distressing; disruptive and/or impairing. The term “unspecified” refers to the fact that a person has symptoms from two or more different types of anxiety disorders, making it hard to give it a particular label. Unspecified anxiety disorder often affects a person’s ability to function in social situations. Some of the signs of unspecified anxiety disorder may include several or all of the symptoms for other anxiety disorders.

Regine Diamond Information

Regine I. Diamond, J.D., M.S.W., LCSW
Florida License # SW5503

PHONE: (954) 964-3259

Providing counseling and psychotherapy to individuals in:

Miami - Ft. Lauderdale - Weston
Tampa - Jacksonville - Orlando
Destin and throughout the state of Florida.