OAM Performance Assessment Series - Volume II - Issue VI

Posted on
June 3, 2020
David Simpson

Anxiety attack versus panic attack…they are not the same.

These two phrases are, at times, mistakenly used interchangeably.  In the case of anxiety attacks, almost everyone can have some level of anxiety at one time or another.  However, some folks have anxiety that increases to the point where it significantly impacts performance.  These attacks are generally recognized as serious apprehension that is often in anticipation of future events.  Most often the source of the anxiety can be easily pinpointed ie. an upcoming exam; an impending important presentation; being late for an appointment etc.  These types of attacks, which are directly correlated with excessive worry and rumination, can come on very slowly and build up over time and last for quite a while – days weeks, or more.  Being aware of anxiety issues with your team these days is critical to today’s leader.  In fact, about 40 million people in North America have varying degrees of anxiety that interferes with on-the-job performance – all of which has been heightened these days because of coronavirus.

As mentioned above, panic attacks are quite different.  A panic attack is a sudden, quick episode of intense fear that triggers a severe physical reaction and a strong sense of threat with no apparent cause or trigger.  In effect, the “fight-flight” response is set in motion with nothing in the person’s immediate circumstances that warrants this primal response.  Panic attacks pass quickly, frequently happen out of the blue and are much more difficult to trace to a specific reason.

It is clear that both of these types of attacks have serious, deleterious consequences to high performance.  Note that because anxiety issues are much more common in people than panic events, you will see, as a leader, many more occurrences of anxiety – both on the job and in an interview setting.  Speaking of the interview process, some people might get nervous initially but calm down as the interview progresses.  However, if the anxiety persists throughout the meeting, beware!  Until next time, please be safe.

Posted on
June 3, 2020
in the
OAM Performance Assessment