How to recognize anxiety & panic

Many people experience stress and anxiety, but in severe cases it can lead to a panic attack.

Dr. Asim Shah, Professor of Psychology at Baylor College of Medicine, says consistent panic attacks can be a mental health disorder.

“If you have one panic attack, that's okay, that's normal. But people who have consistent panic attacks, meaning fear panic attack happening another time, next month, next week, next day and if we have more than one or so, it's a mental health disorder," Dr. Shah says. "Panic attack basically is when you have fear. Fear is a component of panic attack. You have fear of unknown. You have fear which is illogical and without any reason, but you cannot control it. If you are having more than one, it is a mental health disorder.”

Dr. Shah explains the difference between panic and anxiety.

“Panic is something which you have heart palpitations, impending doom, sweating, basically like a heart attack. That severe. It's very severe, maybe peaks in five minutes and doesn't last more than 30 minutes," Dr. Shah says. "Anxiety is something which the core is not fear. The core of anxiety is worry. You worry about things a lot, meaning future things, and that lasts days, weeks, months. So think about it. One is worry, which is anxiety. The other is panic, which is fear. One lasts maybe 30 minutes and anxiety can last months.”

Dr. Shah says there are ways to treat panic and anxiety disorders including awareness, breathing exercises and mindfulness. He says if that doesn't work, you may need to see a professional.