Is there a difference between a meltdown and a panic attack?

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Joined: 25 Feb 2007
Age: 40
Gender: Female
Posts: 1,464
Location: Invisibly here

16 Aug 2009, 12:15 pm

Here's an example that I found on an anxiety website:

A Case History

Ann was watching television after a typical workday. She suddenly developed a peculiar and very strong feeling of being lightheaded and a smothering sensation as if there were no oxygen in the air she was breathing. Then a surge of pounding rapid heartbeat began. It came on so quickly and was so severe that she became panicked that she might be dying of a heart attack! Then she felt very shaky, sweaty, and unsteady. This whole experience reached peak intensity within 60 seconds. This was the eighth such attack this month.

If I were to just read the symptoms of what a panic attack is I'd have said that it's the same as a meltdown, but it's not. I never have a meltdown out of the clear blue sky while I'm just going about my business. There's always a trigger that's external. At first, I am very panicky. It will slowly build, and often will eventually (but not always) end up in anger, with me yelling, unfortunately. It does feel like the end of the world at the moment, because when in the middle of the meltdown all I can think of is how messed up everything is now, and it will never be right again, but I've never thought that I was going to die, ever.