Anger, Anxiety and Panic walk into a bar

Want to hear a joke? A panic attack, an anxiety attack and an anger attack walk into a bar—actually, never mind. Not a single one of them ever gets to reach the punch line anyway; the bartender asks them to leave because they’re disturbing the people around them. They all felt personally attacked. Get it? Personally? Attacked? Yeah, me neither.

Humor has never really been my best virtue and yet it remained my defense/coping mechanism for as long as I can remember. Self-deprecating with a dash of terrible puns; I either made myself laugh or shifted the person’s attention from worry to indignation and disgust. Which worked well for me, to say the least. But for a prolonged period, my tendency to escape and bury feelings under the surface interfered with the healthier approach I should’ve held onto from the very beginning; an understanding of what I was going through.

My journey started with breaking down the differences between a panic attack and an anxiety attack (and breaking down in general, but we’ll ignore that part). Under a certain light, if you don’t look closely, they both seem identical. And that’s not entirely wrong; they are similar in a lot of ways, but they differ according to intensity and time. For instance, panic attacks are often abrupt and fervently intense. They last for 10 minutes but it’s not unusual for them to last longer, or even follow up in succession and blend into one big everlasting panic attack.

Here are the symptoms:

  • Heart palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
  • Excessive sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Sensations of shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or smothering
  • Feeling of choking
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Nausea or abdominal distress
  • Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
  • Feelings of unreality (derealization) or being detached from oneself (depersonalization)
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy
  • Fear of dying
  • Numbness or tingling sensations (paresthesias)
  • Chills or hot flashes

An anxiety attack, on the other hand, has more ground than a panic attack. For instance, it aggravates by time and is mostly generated by an immense amount of worry from a potential danger. The symptoms of an anxiety attack, while they are similar to a panic attack, they’re generally less intense. Alas, they last a lot longer, meaning the minutes can carry out into hours, the hours into days, the days into weeks and the weeks into months.

Here are the symptoms:

  • Muscle tension
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Increased startle response
  • Increased heart rate
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness

Be that as it may, an anger attack is much different than both of them, but it’s not unusual for people who have panic disorders, agoraphobia or other anxiety disorders to have them. Whether that anger is directed towards you, someone else or a situation doesn’t matter, what matters is that you’ll be overwhelmed with rage that you might not be able to contain. Not to mention, overreactions to small irritations.

Here are the symptoms:

  • heart palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
  • excessive sweating
  • trembling or shaking
  • sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
  • the feeling of choking
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • nausea or abdominal distress
  • feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
  • feelings of unreality (derealization) or being detached from oneself (depersonalization)
  • fear of losing control or going crazy
  • fear of dying
  • numbness or tingling sensations (paresthesias)
  • chills or hot flushes

It is just as important to understand your mental health’s condition as it is to understand your physical health. If you think you might be experiencing any of these, it is important to consult a professional.