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You might hear people talking about panic attacks and anxiety attacks like they’re the same thing. They’re different conditions though. Panic attacks come on suddenly and involve intense and often overwhelming fear. They’re accompanied by frightening physical symptoms, such as a racing heartbeat, shortness of breath, or nausea. Anxiety attacks aren’t recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The DSM-5 does, however, define anxiety as a feature of a number of common psychiatric disorders. Symptoms of anxiety include worry, distress, and fear. Anxiety is usually related to the anticipation of a stressful situation, experience, or event. It may come on gradually.

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