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Navigating Anxiety and Panic: Understanding the Difference

Navigating Anxiety and Panic: Understanding the Difference

In this episode of the Women’s Mental Health Podcast,  licensed psychotherapists Randi Owsley, LMSW, and Jessica Bullwinkle, LMFT, explore into the world of anxiety and panic. Join them as they tackle the differences between these two often-confused emotions, discuss the physical and mental symptoms, explore effective coping mechanisms, and provide self-help tips for those seeking relief.

If you're a woman aged 25-55 searching for mental health resources, this episode is a must-listen to conquer your anxiety and find your path to peace.

Are you tired of hearing the phrase “just relax” when discussing mental health challenges, specifically the difference between panic and anxiety? Moreover, they provide actionable and effective coping skills and tools for managing these complex emotions.

Tune in to our podcast for key insights into understanding anxiety disorders and coping with panic disorder. Find women's mental health tips and resources to help manage anxiety and panic attacks. Join our community and learn more about anxiety and panic education to empower your mind.

We have an exciting lineup of episodes coming your way, as we dive deeper into the world of mental health. Our Women's Mental Health Podcast will provide you with key insights into the types of anxiety disorders, including the difference between anxiety and stress and anxiety.

We will explore the root causes of anxiety and panic disorder, as well as the various risk factors associated with these debilitating conditions. We hope to create a supportive community that empowers women to take control of their mental health. Tune in to our podcast to learn more about these important topics and stay informed.

Frequently Asked Questions about Anxiety and Panic

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal human emotion characterized by feelings of worry, fear, or unease. It becomes a concern when it interferes with daily life and functioning.

What is panic disorder?

Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent and unexpected panic attacks. These attacks are intense episodes of fear or discomfort that reach their peak within minutes.

What is the difference between anxiety and panic?

Anxiety refers to a general feeling of worry or unease, while panic is a sudden and intense episode of fear. Anxiety can be more chronic and persistent, while panic attacks are relatively shorter but more severe.

What are the common symptoms of anxiety?

Common symptoms of anxiety may include excessive worrying, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbances.

What are the common symptoms of panic attacks?

During a panic attack, individuals may experience symptoms such as a rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, trembling, sweating, and a sensation of impending doom or loss of control.

What causes anxiety and panic disorders?

Anxiety and panic disorders can have various causes and triggers, including genetic factors, brain chemistry imbalances, traumatic life events, and ongoing stressors.

Can anxiety and panic disorders be cured?

While there is no cure for anxiety and panic disorders, these conditions can be effectively managed with the right treatment and support. Learning coping mechanisms and developing healthy lifestyle habits can help reduce symptoms.

What are common treatment options for anxiety and panic disorders?

Treatment options for anxiety and panic disorders can include therapy (such as cognitive-behavioral therapy), medication, relaxation techniques, lifestyle changes, and support groups. A combination of these approaches is often most effective.

How long do panic attacks last?

Panic attacks typically reach their peak within a few minutes and may last anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes. However, some individuals may experience longer or multiple panic attacks in a row.

When should I seek professional help for anxiety or panic?

Ways to Unwind and Relax

Meditative, Relaxing, Mental Health Coloring books developed by licensed psychotherapists Randi Owsley and Jessica Bullwinkle – Available on Amazon Today!


Navigating Anxiety and Panic: Understanding the Difference

[00:00:00] Randi: welcome to the Women's Mental Health Podcast with Randi and Jess. We're two licensed psychotherapists and we talk about women's mental health, well being and strategies for coping with life's challenges and how it's all normal.

[00:00:12] Jess: It's all normal. So today we're jumping off into a topic that affects so many of us.

Anxiety and panic.

[00:00:20] Randi: Anxiety and panic attacks are both common mental health issues, but they are often misunderstood and misdiagnosed.

[00:00:27] Jess: Yes. Randi's favorite word, misdiagnosed. It is,

[00:00:30] Randi: because it happens a lot.

[00:00:32] Jess: In this episode, we're going to discuss the differences between anxiety and panic attacks, how they manifest in our lives, and give you some coping skills and strategies for managing

[00:00:42] Randi: them.

And you can find us and more resources on womensmentalhealthpodcast. com.

[00:00:48] Jess: Have you ever had these thoughts?

[00:00:51] Randi: What is the difference between anxiety and panic? Do either

[00:00:54] Jess: ever go away, or are you stuck with them for life?

[00:00:57] Randi: Can anxiety and panic attacks be cured?

[00:01:01] Jess: What causes them to feel so real and so awful?

[00:01:05] Randi: How the F do I calm down when I'm feeling this way? How

[00:01:09] Jess: can I tell if it's anxiety or panic?

[00:01:12] Randi: Can my anxiety attack become a panic attack? Oh man, I

[00:01:16] Jess: feel like we're gonna go into circular motion. What are the common causes and triggers of anxiety and

[00:01:21] Randi: panic? Are there really any good treatments for anxiety and panic disorders?

[00:01:26] Jess: How can I actually manage my anxiety or panic attacks in the moment?

[00:01:31] Randi: And are there any natural remedies or alternative therapies maybe for anxiety and panic attack? Like maybe you're not comfortable taking medication. A lot of people

[00:01:42] Jess: aren't. Yeah. Okay. And how do I support a loved one with anxiety or panic, especially while they're having an attack?

[00:01:49] Randi: . So let's start by clarifying and defining the difference between anxiety and panic. And many people use these terms interchangeably. So that's where, the misnomers come with this, but they are not the same thing.

[00:02:05] Jess: They're not. And a lot of people throw it around like they say, Oh, I'm OCD or I'm ADHD today.

. And so we're not trying to belittle anybody that is having anxiety or panic when we have this. It is very real and very scary feeling when we have them. Right. And so we really want to help you kind of figure out which one you're having, because that gives you more tools and can help you Feel better in the long run.

Okay, so Randi, let's start off first by defining Anxiety attacks and

[00:02:33] Randi: panic

[00:02:34] Jess: attacks .

[00:02:34] Randi: So an anxiety attack is a sudden onset, , intense, worry that you have that and it can have physical symptoms with it, too And a panic attack is an onset of intense fear or terror that often includes also physical symptoms So let's dive into those symptoms

[00:02:54] Jess: and It's important to remember that They can manifest differently for different people, which basically saying we all have different symptoms and different triggers.

And so we're going to go over some of the ones that we see as therapists. , it doesn't mean that you have to have all of these. It doesn't mean that yours is different and that's not what it is.

[00:03:14] Randi: , You could have totally varying symptoms from this. And so that's why it's important to see a therapist and a doctor or psychiatrist.

So you can walk through the exact symptoms you're having and pair them together with this. Okay. So

[00:03:30] Jess: we're going to go through anxiety. Anxiety is the excessive worrying. It's the, the restlessness being fidgety as sometimes it's irritability. I can get grumpy when I'm anxious and snappy, , yeah, short

[00:03:44] Randi: tempered,

[00:03:45] Jess: stomach aches, headaches. Oh, bubblegut.? You get anxious. Yeah. Yeah. So you know, you got to run to the bathroom because you have to go to the bathroom.

[00:03:52] Randi: A lot of people are like, I have IBS. And it's like, do you have IBS? Or do you have anxiety, , or it could be together.

And panic, on the other hand, involves a racing heart, shortness of breath, , sweating, trembling, chest pains, feeling, , like you're being doomed. Think of like, , Jason and the mask, like chasing you like with a knife. And you're like, Oh. Transcribed

[00:04:12] Jess: Even with anxiety, you can have the chest pains, but usually panic is the one that comes out of like nowhere, right?

Anxiety is the one where we're like, Oh, you know this, I'm getting worried about this. I'm getting anxious. Oh, I'm going to go out on the raging river on my paddleboard. I'm

[00:04:29] Randi: getting anxious. It gets worse and worse. It gets worse and worse. Where panic is just. All of a sudden, snap.

[00:04:35] Jess: So, okay. So what are some of the causes for each

[00:04:38] Randi: one?

So common causes of like anxiety are stress, trauma, PTSD. It could be genetics. It could also be environmental factors. That river. That river

[00:04:49] Jess: was really scary. Let me tell you. And so very similarly though, panic attacks, , their genetics, it's trauma and environmental factors. So it's so easy to see.

Why it's so confusing to know which one am I having. Mm hmm. How how do I even tell which one I'm having

[00:05:06] Randi: and it's more so anxiety leans towards more of the stress and like the worry and like Kind of like that cycle and then like it builds up and builds up or like the panic is a little bit more like you said instantaneous.

Mm hmm. And how does this impact us as women in our day to day lives?

[00:05:22] Jess: anxiety can make it difficult for us to function and basically enjoy life, ? It interferes with our relationships, work, overall well being as we had talked about in other episodes We're anxious and so we're not gonna go join our friends because we're worried We're not gonna fit in or we're anxious that we're gonna be late or say too much or , it prevents us from enjoying and joining our life, right?

[00:05:49] Randi: So that's what we call, , , avoidance behavior. , and in a negative, almost coping, , way, and we start to avoid things because they give us anxiety. Yeah. So

[00:05:59] Jess: next thing, you know, we're staying at home in our jammies all the time because we're like, no, no, in order to not be anxious, I'm going to hang out my jammies at home and then I'm not going to be

[00:06:06] Randi: anxious.

Right. And then that leads to other things like loneliness. that we just talked about on a previous podcast and, , social isolation . And then that also has other effects on our long term health.

[00:06:18] Jess: And so panic attacks, , they can be so intense, ? That people think they're having a heart attack and they will go to the hospital.

They'll sit in the ER and they'll go to the hospital and they'll be like, I'm having a panic attack. It

[00:06:30] Randi: feels like you're having, it can feel like you're having a heart

[00:06:34] Jess: attack. Because, yeah, you're like, this is real, this is real, and that is the thing, is that you're like, this isn't, I wasn't worried, I was fine, now I'm having a panic attack, or I'm panicking about something, and I can't settle myself down.

[00:06:47] Randi: ,

and sometimes it's hard with a panic attack to see what triggered you, because you'll be like, I was fine, I was doing okay, and then all of a sudden, , Oh, my gosh, like, why is does this feel like the worst thing ever? And it could be because maybe you were having so much stress and not taking care of yourself.

And then it's not really like a trigger per se, but it's all this stuff compounded and then your body just kind of like let it out. this

[00:07:10] Jess: way, and your anxiety can become panic. I mean, it really can, where you're having anxiety, anxiety, anxiety, and now, oh, fuck, we've gone into panic mode, right?

And now we're panicking and panic feels so real in the moment where you're panicking. It's almost like, um, you know, you hear about people who are drowning and they start to panic and they pull other people under Because you're, it is so real in the moment that it, that's the only thing you can see or do.

[00:07:39] Randi: And that's why, as a woman, it is so important to prioritize your self care and your mental health care. So that you're not getting into this perpetual state of worry or fear or like a panic attack looming. So it's doing preventative care. for yourself so you aren't feeling like you need to claw your way

[00:08:01] Jess: out.

Mm hmm. And if you know Randy and I, we like to give you tips and tricks and strategies and coping skills, ? Mm hmm. Um, your toolbox because we want you to know how to cope when this is happening. , the first thing I teach people, , we talk about practice relaxation techniques and deep breathing and meditation and mindfulness and all of that.

The very first step, though, is paying attention to your body. You need to know what your triggers are. If you're going to go see your mother in law and she triggers you, that's a trigger. We know triggers. Right. But it's paying attention to your body because if I'm getting hot and the entire house is 65 degrees.

I'm probably anxious. If I'm short and, , snappy, that could be anxious.

[00:08:49] Randi: Yeah. The other night I realized I was getting really short. I was getting really snappy. I was like, I only slept a few hours last night. I looked at the calendar. I was like, okay, I'm. Cycling right now. I'm hormonal. And so I was like, I need to have some downtime by myself.

I need to go rest. I need to take a little short nap, check in with myself. And it's like, it would have just gotten worse. Had I not, , checked in with myself and listen to my body and notice that these things were happening. Exactly.

[00:09:19] Jess: And when we start going, Oh, my heart is racing. We've ignored all the other warning signs that our body gave us.


[00:09:28] Randi: especially as women, we learn to ignore ourselves and put ourselves last. , , this just happened a few months ago when I had to have surgery. I had to have emergency surgery. Sorry, we're laughing. It's not funny, but we're laughing. No, but because I thought I was having heartburn for six months and it turns out…

I had, , gallstones that were really horrible and then I needed to have emergency surgery on them. I wasn't listening to my body. No, and

[00:09:50] Jess: most of us, , we have sweaty palms or our shoulders are tense and we're like, oh, we just need a massage. You're like, no, no, actually it. This is anxiety or panic that is happening with you.

And so it's learning to, put techniques into place that can help you calm your mind and reduce your stress levels and being aware of when they are rising

[00:10:10] Randi: and seek help. Seek a therapist, a counselor, a psychotherapist, a psychiatrist that specializes in, , anxiety and panics. They can help you work through that, and find those triggers.

, sometimes medication can be super helpful with that too, especially it doesn't need to be a life sentence, I say, but especially when you're learning those coping skills and those tools that can help you in the moment when you're having, , that intense fear or that intense worry, medication can help take off the edge so that you can get ahead of it.

Mm hmm.

[00:10:46] Jess: And a lot of people think that , oh, well, they prescribed me an antidepressant, but I'm not depressed, an antidepressant will actually cover anxiety and some

[00:10:55] Randi: panic. Yeah, there's a lot of medications that do, , double duty. They cover like so many things, whether it's binge eating or anxiety or depression

 So it doesn't. necessarily mean just because it's been titled one thing, sometimes the names of medications I feel like do a disservice to what they can really, , what they really mean and what they can really do for you.

, , but that's part of communicating and talking to your provider and your therapist

[00:11:19] Jess: about it. This is Randy's trigger here, right here. This is her trigger is that , , there's a lot of Crappy doctors and therapists, . So ask questions. Yeah. Advocate for yourself. If somebody says, here, you should take this.

Find out what it is. Why? What are the side effects? Don't just Google it, don't go to WebMD, but ask your doctor, what should I look for? Why are we taking this? Not just because you think, , in 15 minutes, this is what I need. Mm-hmm. .

[00:11:46] Randi: And that's why we talk a lot about support and resources for women's mental health.

And especially for you guys, our listeners, we want you to remember that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. It is a sign that you love yourself. It's a sign that you want to get better. It's a sign of more to come. It is not something that's negative. It is a positive.

[00:12:10] Jess: It should be simply like, I got my car washed,

that's it. I also got therapy. Right. I, , went to the dentist. It should just be something we do to take care of ourselves. Something we enjoy. I mean, most of the time, after you go to therapy, you feel really good. Mm hmm. And you're like, oh, I feel so much better after that. I was, I was so glad I was able to talk that through.

Right. So, we all face challenges. All of us, and taking steps to address it is so, so

[00:12:38] Randi: important, right? And this allows us to remember that we're not alone. There are so many women out there who are experiencing anxiety or panic right now or have in the past and sharing your journey and talking about it like this in the open.

leads to support and communication. So also share your story with others because you never know the impact you can have on somebody else too that might also be struggling.

[00:13:05] Jess: So a couple of months ago, uh, my, maybe it was weeks ago. My daughter comes in and goes, mom, mom, so and so is, I think she's having anxiety, an anxiety attack.

And I said, okay, what's going on? She goes, well, what do I tell her to do? Help me to help her. I said, okay, tell you what, let's talk her through the breathing that we do and , let's process that with her. And so it helped. I was trying to FaceTime her, it wasn't working. So I went through and I created a video.

 I think you'll have seen that Randy, I made her do some breathing a couple, like, like last year, right? And, and so what I also did is I created a video and I said, Hey, next time she's having a problem, just send her my video because I talk you through how to breathe and how to settle down. And most of us don't know how to do that.

[00:13:50] Randi: And also another great tip to sometimes I tell my clients is that, eat something sour. or like a sour candy or something, it snaps something in your brain so that you give yourself a minute to kind of process what's happening and it can shift what's happening. Ooh,

[00:14:07] Jess: I'm at the try that. I have never heard of that.

I mean, I guess it is true, you want to distract yourself, right?

[00:14:12] Randi: And, , my daughter and I were just watching the new show the summer, I turned pretty and one of the main characters, Conrad, he has panic attacks and just. He's also going through a lot like the mom has passed away from cancer and this and he so they're Becoming more frequently and he like runs off and he like can't breathe and he's like goes to the beach and one of his best Friends follows him and he's like freaking out because he's never seen him have this panic attack and then he goes What can I do to help?

He asks him what can I do to help and he's like He tells him like do this just talk about something help distract myself and then he's able to kind of come down Come out of it, but it was just he just said what can I felt like that was so powerful He just said tell me what to do so I can help you and that Was and he was like do I get somebody to do this and he was like no I just need you to be right here with me right now and just Talk about this and then after he was able to kind of tell him like these are happening more frequently like this is and I Thought that that was so important for them to address that to in A young adult TV drama like that and that sometimes we just need to be like, what do I need to do to help?

We don't need to fix it or it might just need to stand there and be with that person while they're walking through That hard thing for that, you know those few minutes and that can make all the difference in the world

[00:15:32] Jess: And in following up with that, if you're someone who has extreme panic attacks, sometimes when someone says, what can I do to help, , it's really hard to say, Oh, I need, , my glass of water.

I need, , you to count to 10 with me. , what I will have people do is I'll have them write it down when they're not panicked, put it in their phone. So that way you can just, cause we all have our phones on us, just pull up your little widget. It says, Hey, I'm having a panic attack.

It's okay. I will be okay. This is what I need from you. Can you get me a cold glass of water? Please don't touch me or please give me a hug. Tell them what you need and you can just show them. Even a perfect stranger, you can go. Here, this is what's happening and what I need. It's like your medical ID bracelet,

but it has a detailed recipe of what you need when you're having

[00:16:25] Randi: one of these. Yeah, even make a printout and put it on the fridge for like your family or kids or something like that with anything, with anything that you struggle with. This is what I need right now. A, B, C. It's not pushy. I think it's empowering.

Yes. And , it's so It's healthy communication.

[00:16:43] Jess: It is, and it is taking care of yourself, and that healthy communication is that buzzword we all say, that self care. It's just really taking care of yourself, we've talked about going to therapy, there are, , online resources and community for women, , to get help, to do group support if you like groups or you find them helpful.

, there are just a lot of options

[00:17:06] Randi: yeah. So don't feel like you're alone at all because you are not alone on this journey. And if you found this episode helpful, please share it with your friends and family and somebody that you think might just need a little pick me up

So join us next time for more tips and insights on women's mental health.

[00:17:23] Jess: All right. See you later.

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Anxiety and Panic Podcast S2 Ep 12

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