Panic versus Anxiety.
There is a difference and we use these terms interchangeably all the time, even I am guilty of it.
From the way I understand it and it can be a bit confusing, a panic attack is a sudden onset. It is a jarring experience and has an immediate effect. Where anxiety comes on gradually over time and then you realize that you are in the middle of an anxiety attack.
Both have similar symptoms. But the key difference is how long they last. A panic attack is usually over in about 10 minutes, where an anxiety attack can last for a long time. The worst part is: a panic attack can be gone, and then anxiety takes over and then you have a rolling effect from it.
I do better in story mode sometimes. A friend walks up behind you and claps their hands loudly, causing you to panic. You breathe through it and as soon as the panic is gone, you get hit with an anxiety attack and are watching your back to make sure no one else comes up behind you and does it again. Then the weather takes a change and you hear thunder, which can bring on panic again, throwing you back into anxiety.
Anxiety usually has a starting point, you have to deal with that difficult person, you have to have that talk, you have financial difficulties or you see clouds in the sky and know it’s about to storm. It’s your brain's way of preparing you for the worst possible future outcome. And until you get through the storm, you are locked-in anxiety. It helps me to think of anxiety as a future event that we assume the outcome of, and we assume that it is going to be bad.
Panic is a sudden effect that is usually caused by something in your past. (Not always) however, I have seen panic happen to a friend when someone dropped a bottle 1/2 full of liquid into a trash can and made a booming noise. He had been in a live-fire accident with ammunition. As soon as I heard the sound I looked at him and he was white as a sheet, breathing hard, and clearly upset.
So when you put on that mask, does it cause a sudden panic, or is it thinking about it and it’s gradual? I imagine it’s a touch of both. So we have to prove to your mind that wearing a mask is safe, to keep you from going into anxiety. And then manage the panic when you are rushing through the store to get groceries and can’t breathe mostly because you might be winded.
Both of these are treatable and manageable without you having to suffer.