Different Types of Panic Attacks

This is not a scientific post. There are no references cited. This is solely based on my own experiences. Depending on my mood, emotions, and sensory stimuli, I never have the same kind of panic attacks. There are many factors that combine to bring on an attack. There are other instances where the same situation causes no panic. It’s unpredictable. Even which kind of attack I will have is unpredictable. I have identified three kinds of attacks I’ve had, each one a different form of panic. There could be more, but these are mine.

Normal Apprehension as Panic

These are the normal things that cause anxiety for anyone. Things like stage freight and public speaking, talking to your crush for the first time, or doing anything for the first time. On occasion, I get so worked up I can’t do the thing. Sometimes, forcing myself to keep going works and I get stuff done. This doesn’t always work, and I abandon all hope until the next time around. Not everyone has issues with this sort of anxiety, but those of us with anxiety disorders struggle a little more than others. This is the easiest type of panic from which to come down and doesn’t ruin your day.

Fear as Panic

Anyone who feels their life is in danger will have a slight panic attack. This is a normal reaction to danger. What do you do when you’re lying in bed, nothing is happening, and your heart starts racing? What do you do when you feel like you’re in danger, but there’s no danger around you? This type of panic attack is the most unpredictable because it can happen anywhere, anytime, and with no probable cause. This is also the most difficult panic attack to get over. I think it’s because the lack of a cause creates more anxiety.

Anger as Panic

This is the one I struggle with the most. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s never fun when it does. Usually, when my senses are overwhelmed, and I have less control than I’d like, I get frustrated. When this happens, I have to move around and handle things within my control to calm down. When I can’t do this, and I feel things are not being done the way they should, I get angry. I snap at others or have an attitude when I don’t need one. It used to be a lot worse, but as long as I don’t allow myself to get frustrated, I can avoid this kind of panic.

With all three of these panic attacks, I have the same symptoms; pounding chest, the shakes, irritability, and the need to avoid all humans. Sometimes the attack and symptoms last a few minutes where other times they can last for hours. I’m still learning about mine and figuring out how to avoid having them. I try to avoid stressful situations. Easier said than done. If I can’t avoid them, I focus on things I can control, even if all I do is rearrange furniture. It keeps me focused and I can avoid getting too angry or having to leave to catch my breath.

14 thoughts on “Different Types of Panic Attacks

  1. I have experienced all three types of these as well…the one I experience the most is the one you call Anger as Panic..and like you it starts out as a frustration with something being out of my control.

    The one I suffer from the least is the fear as panic- I can tell this in the last 18 months I have only experienced this 3 times or so.

    Additionally I have one I call the mini panic attack- it’s not full blown panic but enough on the edge where I can’t function well cognatvively.

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  2. Yep, I’ve had all three. I almost went into a full blown fear-panic this morning, but somehow pulled it back. Thank god. I’ve been doing well lately, so this came out of left field. Glad I talked myself out of it. My most common is anger. I am better about that too, but it’s still far too easy to slip back into.

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  3. I can totally relate to needing to do something in your control to calm down. Whenever I feel an attack coming on, I will sit down and play guitar, maybe doodle something, etc. Anything where I have to focus 100% of my attention to doing something.

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  4. Oh heck! I even panic at the thought of change! It’s not dangerous but tedious and that makes me freak out at times also depending on my mood and what not.

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  5. I have had panic attacks from what ‘normal’ people would say was just low-key anxiety and panic attacks out of the blue, for absolutely no reason. I recently had a new kind of panic attack. I was going to a concert with a friend, a band I’m not really into, so not overly excited, but I like music. We had to climb six flights of stairs to get out of the parking garage, and I am NOT in good shape. So, heavy breathing, heart beating harder. My brain apparently took this as me being in danger. Full-on panic attack brought on by the physical symptoms, instead of the reverse. Having a panic attack in a concert venue, surrounded by thousands of Fall Out Boy fans is not fun.

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  6. I think this is a great explanation. I get all 3 but now that I’m 40, I find #2 the most debilitating. I take a beta blocker religiously now and it helps. I was #3 close to Christmas in a hot, crowded Kohl’s. It’s humiliating and I don’t always have a public display unless I’m stressed in a crowded place so that is more manageable for me. # 1 just sucks and I’ve missed many opportunities because of it.

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  7. Great post! I think it’s really important for people to understand that panic attacks don’t all look the same (mine are most often not noticeable to others while some people’s attacks are obvious) and what triggers them can differ from person to person.

    I have experienced all three types, but my panic attacks are mostly fear based and often are rooted in obsessive thinking. There are certain situations that set me off, but I am getting better at identifying and managing them.

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