Panic Attack vs Seizure


Having uncontrollable thoughts or movements can be very scary for not only the people experiencing them, but people around them as well. Panic attacks and seizures are both very common, but also extremely different in nature. The symptoms of each vary vastly from person to person. Both of these conditions are fairly unknown which can make treatment difficult. Let’s explore just how different each of these health conditions are.

Understanding Panic Attacks

1. Basics
A panic attack is when a person has a sudden and overwhelming feeling of fear. It is an anxiety disorder that millions of people of all ages suffer with. Each person’s panic attacks are very different and are stemmed from different things but many of the symptoms are the same.

2. What It’s Like
A panic attack can be a very scary thing. People often feel as if they are dying or going insane. Only a few or all of these symptoms may be present in a person experiencing a panic attack: Chills, rapid heart beat, overwhelming fear, headache, dizziness, uncontrollable crying, chest pain, tight throat, shortness of breath, and nausea.

3. Causes
Different people have different triggers for a panic attack. Some people have them so often that it affects their day to day life. Some common causes that may induce a panic attack are stress, previous trauma, hormonal changes, and genetics. Many people also believe that the body’s “fight-or-flight” reaction to danger is a key part of panic attacks.

4. Treatment
Some treatments are available to people that suffer from panic attacks. The goal from these treatments is to completely eliminate the panic attacks from your life, however are not always successful. Prescription drugs are the most commonly used form of treatment, these drugs are designed to treat anxiety by effecting the chemicals in the brain. Therapy is another form of treatment that requires much more time to see results. This involves trying to pin point the causes and triggers of your panic attacks, and how you can manage them.

Important Facts About Seizures

1. What They Are
A seizure is characterized by involuntary muscle spasms and change in consciousness. They are caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain and be very dangerous. The severity of a seizure depends on the cause of them.

2. Types
There are 6 different types of seizures that may be experienced and all have different defining symptoms.
Grand Mal: Unconsciousness and convulsions
Absence: A brief loss of consciousness
Myoclonic: Isolated muscle spasms
Clonic: Repetitive muscle spasms
Tonic: Stiff muscles
Atonic: A loss of muscle tone

3. Symptoms
While each type of seizure has some variety in the symptoms that are experienced, there is a multitude of symptoms that can occur with any seizure. Some people have warning signs that they are about to experience a seizure, these often include anxiety, seeing lights or spots, vertigo, or nausea. Some signs that a person may be experiencing a seizure are clenching their teeth, grunting, a sudden fall, rapid eye movements, and loss of bladder or bowel control. Some, all, or none of these symptoms might be present in a person experiencing a seizure.

4. Causes
Most of the time the exact cause of a seizure is a mystery. Many different injuries and health conditions can result in a seizure, most involving the brain. Some of these include brain tumors, electrolyte imbalance, epilepsy, stroke, drug use, and brain infections.

5. Treatment
Some medications made to regulate the brain may be effective in treating recurring seizures, but often a seizure is due to an unknown cause and can be very difficult to treat. Home care and knowing how to handle someone experiencing a seizure is the most important and effective thing you can education yourself with. If you witness someone having or seemingly about to have a seizure you should help to prevent a fall or further injury by moving furniture and sharp objects. You should loosen any tight clothing the person may be wearing, turn the person onto their side in case of vomiting, do NOT try to restrain the person or stop them from moving, and do NOT place anything in their mouth.

Differences Between A Panic Attack and A Seizure

1.Type of Disorder
The largest difference between panic attacks and seizures is that a panic attack stems from a mental anxiety disorder. A seizure is a problem with the brains electrical activity and can be much more dangerous.

2. Consciousness
Many times a person experiencing a seizure can lose consciousness. It is also common for them to have no recollection or memory of their seizure. Panic attacks however are vividly remembered, and the person having one is fully aware that they are having a panic attack.

3. Treatment Options
Panic attacks can often be managed with anxiety medications and therapy. These can either stop the attacks completely or help a person understand how to avoid one. Seizures often cannot be avoided. The exact cause is usually unknown and they come on very abruptly. Certain drugs can help if a person has a seizure disorder.

4. Risks
The risks involved with each of these disorders are vastly different. A panic attack usually has no residual effects and cause no physical harm to a person experiencing them. While they are scary in the moment, after you come out on the other side you are virtually unharmed. Seizures can cause severe injury to the body and brain. This is because of involuntary movements and the parts of the brain being effected.