Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Anxiety attack and panic attack

2-minute read

‘Anxiety attack’ is not a recognised medical term, and it can mean different things to different people. Saying ‘I had an anxiety attack’ can mean ‘I felt anxious’, or it can mean ‘I had a panic attack’, or it can mean something else.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling that almost everybody gets at some time or another. It involves feeling worried about something that might happen, or is going to happen, as well as feelings of nervousness or tension.

Anxiety is part of life. But there are some people who feel anxious so often that it interferes with their life. If that’s the case, they might have an anxiety-related disorder.

What is a panic attack?

A panic attack is an overwhelming feeling of fear and tension. People having a panic attack can feel like they’re choking or having a heart attack, with:

Panic attacks come on fairly suddenly and lasts anywhere between a few minutes to half an hour.

Panic attacks can often be caused by stress. But they can also be associated with a family history of panic attacks, drug and alcohol use, and certain medical conditions.

Learn more about panic attacks.

What is panic disorder?

Panic disorder is something different again. People with panic disorder have repeated panic attacks, so many that it interferes with their life.

Treatment of anxiety and panic

There is plenty that can be done for people who have problems with anxiety and panic.

Treatment can include:

Getting professional support is always a good idea. It’s important to find the right health professional for you. And there are plenty of online self-help programs, support and ways to get therapy, too.

Where to get help

Overcoming anxiety and dealing with panic attacks is easier if you seek help. Talk to your doctor, (search for a doctor in your region), or see below for online programs and tools that can help.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: April 2018

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Panic Attacks

Panic Attacks A panic attack is sudden and intense feeling of terror without the presence of danger

Read more on Lifeline website

Panic attack - Better Health Channel

Without treatment, frequent and prolonged panic attacks can be severely disabling.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

How To Deal with Panic Attacks and Agoraphobia | THIS WAY UP

Feeling overwhelmed by panic? You may be dealing with panic attacks, panic disorder, or agoraphobia. Learn more about these conditions.

Read more on This Way Up website

What are panic attacks? | Anxiety | ReachOut Australia

Learn about the various symptoms of a panic attack and what you can do to manage them.

Read more on website

How to help a friend with panic or anxiety | Anxiety | ReachOut Australia

It can be difficult to know what to do if your friend is experiencing a panic attack or has an anxiety disorder.

Read more on website

Panic Attacks - Synapse

Panic attacks occur when the body reacts as if it is in immense danger in a situation where most people would not be afraid.

Read more on Synapse - Australia's Brain Injury Organisation website

Tool Kit: Panic Attacks

A self-help resource to help people experiencing panic attacks

Read more on Lifeline website

Panic disorder -

People with panic disorder have repeated panic attacks that often occur out of the blue, and agoraphobia is a common complication.

Read more on myDr website

What is agoraphobia? | Anxiety | ReachOut Australia

Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder characterised by a fear of having a panic attack in a situation that is difficult to escape from or where help may not be available.

Read more on website

Childhood phobias, panic attacks & PTSD | Raising Children Network

Children often have phobias about the dark, storms, dogs, spiders and clowns. Panic attacks are quite rare. Post-traumatic stress is a reaction to trauma.

Read more on website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo