LIFESTYLE

What's The Difference Between A Panic Attack And A Nervous Breakdown?

03/11/2014 16:47 GMT | Updated 03/11/2014 16:59 GMT

While panic attacks and nervous breakdowns are similar, they are not the same according to Dr Todd Essig, clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst.

Panic attacks are severe attacks of anxiety and fear that often come on without warning.

They can last up to 20 minutes and symptoms include a racing heart, sweaty palms and shaking, as well as general anxiety and nervousness. This type of attack can even make you think you're about to die, even though you're not actually in danger.

nervous

Mental health blogger, Maria Senise suggests that there are a number of ways to 'survive' a panic attack. Firstly, stop what you are doing and step away. Then, try a deep breathing exercise. While you're doing this become mindful of your breathing, so that you are purely focusing on your breath and nothing else.

Other ways to stem your panic attack include:

:: Drinking water or splashing it on your face.

:: Going for a walk

:: Trying progressive muscle relaxation

SEE ALSO:

How to Survive a Panic Attack

How to Recover From a Panic Attack

A nervous breakdown, however, is a broader umbrella term associated with nervous exhaustion or burnout, Dr Essig tells HuffPost Live. It describes a period of mental illness resulting from severe depression, stress, or anxiety. In essence, you can think of a panic attack as a 'type' of nervous breakdown.

The good news: you can recover from both a nervous breakdown and a panic attack.

"Self knowledge is an important component of recovery," Dr Essig says. "You have to know what works for you and what doesn't."