Panic Disorder Symptoms and Diagnosis The Differences Between Panic and Anger Attacks By Sheryl Ankrom, MS, LCPC Sheryl Ankrom, MS, LCPC LinkedIn Sheryl Ankrom is a clinical professional counselor and nationally certified clinical mental health counselor specializing in anxiety disorders. Learn about our editorial process Updated on February 08, 2023 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Amy Morin, LCSW Medically reviewed by Amy Morin, LCSW Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Amy Morin, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk, "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print gpointstudio / Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Anger Attacks Panic Attacks Understanding the Differences Causes of Anger Attacks How to Cope Anger attacks are characterized by intense, sudden periods of anger that resemble panic attacks but without feelings of fear and anxiety. It’s not unusual for people who have panic disorder, agoraphobia, or another anxiety disorder to experience frustration because of their condition. You may blame yourself or others for your condition, further escalating your sense of anger and resentment. Sometimes this frustration can develop into anger toward yourself, anger at your situation, or anger toward others. Researchers have conducted studies on what they term “anger attacks” in depressed and anxious individuals. They conclude that there are certain similarities between anger attacks and panic attacks. The following describes the symptoms of anger attacks and panic attacks with an explanation of the key differences. Symptoms of Anger Attacks According to researchers, anger attacks are characterized by the occurrence of at least four of the following symptoms: Chest pains, tightening, or discomfort Dizziness or lightheadedness Excessive sweating Fear of losing control Feeling like attacking others Heart pounding or racing Hot or cold flashes Intense fear or anxiety Physically attacking others Shaking or trembling Shortness of breath Throwing or destroying objects Tingling or itching skin Symptoms of Panic Attacks The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is a handbook used by treatment providers in determining one's diagnosis. This manual contains valuable definitions of symptoms and disorders as well as diagnostic criteria. According to the DSM-5, a panic attack is characterized by four or more of the following symptoms: Chest pain or discomfort Chills or hot flushes Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself) Dizziness, unsteadiness, lightheadedness, or feeling faint Excessive sweating Fear of losing control or going crazy Fear of dying Feeling of choking Heart palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate Nausea or abdominal distress Numbness or tingling sensations (paresthesias) Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering Trembling or shaking A Basic Guide to Panic Attacks Understanding the Differences It’s easy to see the similarities between the symptoms of an anger attack and a panic attack. Both produce many of the same sudden and intense physical and emotional sensations. However, there are important differences. Anger attacks might be more likely to occur in situations in which an individual feels emotionally trapped rather than as the result of fear and anxiety that are often associated with panic attacks. Because a person feels trapped and unsure of how to manage the situation, they lash out with anger. Panic attacks, on the other hand, can be unexpected, out-of-the-blue, or cued by thinking about or being exposed to something you fear. For instance, people who have a phobia (such as the fear of flying, the fear of enclosed spaces, or the fear of public speaking) often experience panic attacks. Anger can also intensify and worsen panic attack symptoms. Distinguishing Characteristics In addition, there are criteria that are unique to anger attacks, including: Angry overreaction to small irritationsInappropriate anger directed toward othersIrritable feelings in the past 6 monthsOne or more anger attacks experienced in the past month Causes of Anger Attacks Anger attacks can be triggered by many things. Stress, interpersonal relationships, financial problems, and substance use are just a few issues that can play a role. Anger attacks can also be a symptom of numerous health conditions, including: Alcohol misuse: Misusing alcohol makes it more difficult to control your emotions. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): People with ADHD often experience greater emotional intensity. This can make it more difficult to control feelings of anger that a person may experience. Bipolar disorder: Mania in bipolar disorder can cause extreme anger over a mild irritant. Depression: While depression is often associated with sadness, it is not uncommon for people to experience anger and irritability as well. Many people with depression experience anger attacks as a result of common annoyances. Grief: It is common for people to experience anger attacks after the loss of a loved one. Recap Many things can trigger anger attacks, including stress, financial issues, work, and social pressures, family or relationship troubles, lack of sleep, and even frustration over having panic disorder, agoraphobia, or another type of anxiety disorder. Coping With Anger Attacks If you feel that you are experiencing anger attacks, and they are interfering with your work or relationships, talk to your doctor or mental healthcare provider. Use Anger Management Techniques Together, you can work to develop an anger management plan, which might include identifying your triggers, behaviors, and reactions and learning and practicing relaxation techniques such as the following: Deep breathing exercises Meditation Progressive muscle relaxation Visualization Yoga Try Anger Management Therapy Anger management therapy can help you address the cognitive and behavioral components of anger in order to better regulate difficult and intense emotions. During therapy, you'll learn how to identify your anger triggers and develop strategies to diffuse feelings of frustration and anger. You'll also learn how to change the underlying negative thinking patterns that contribute to your anger. Consider Medication Your doctor may also prescribe medications to help reduce your symptoms. Certain medications, such as antidepressants, that can be used to effectively treat panic attacks also work for managing anger attacks. Practice Self-Care Good self-care routines can also help. Self-care may include exercising, eating well, managing your sleep habits, and building a solid support network. Join a Support Group Attending local or online support groups and ongoing therapy are also viable options. Such groups can offer encouragement, advice, and resources that can help you better manage your anger. A Word From Verywell Through therapy, you can learn to better control your anger and cope with your panic or anger attacks in a healthy way. By following through with treatment and embracing healthy lifestyle choices, you can expect to have both issues in check. If you or a loved one are struggling with an anxiety disorder, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area. For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database. The Best Online Anxiety Support Groups 9 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. de Bles NJ, Rius Ottenheim N, van Hemert AM, et al. Trait anger and anger attacks in relation to depressive and anxiety disorders. J Affect Disord. 2019;259:259-265. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2019.08.023 Painuly NP, Grover S, Gupta N, Mattoo SK. Prevalence of anger attacks in depressive and anxiety disorders: Implications for their construct?. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2011;65(2):165-74. doi:10.1111/j.1440-1819.2010.02177.x American Psychiatric Association (APA). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed, text revision. Washington, D.C.; 2022. Giancola PR, Levinson CA, Corman MD, et al. Men and women, alcohol and aggression. 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American Journal of Psychiatry. 1990;147:867-870. doi:10.1176/ajp.147.7.867 By Sheryl Ankrom, MS, LCPC Sheryl Ankrom is a clinical professional counselor and nationally certified clinical mental health counselor specializing in anxiety disorders. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for Panic Disorder Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.