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You might use these terms interchangeably, but they have slightly different meanings.
Heart pounding, hands shaking, a rush of heat all over your body. If you’ve ever experienced a surge in anxiety, we don’t need to tell you how disruptive — and scary — it can feel. But is it a panic attack, or an anxiety attack?
People often talk about panic attacks and anxiety attacks as if they’re the same thing. While they do have several symptoms in common, they’re actually separate conditions with a few notable differences.
For the most part, it boils down to intensity and duration of the attack. Here’s how to tell them apart, along with treatment options and resources.
We all worry from time to time. Yet panic and anxiety attacks are distinct from normal fear. They’re accompanied by emotional and physical symptoms that can make it difficult to get on with your day.
Panic attacks appear to come out of nowhere. They are considered to be more intense than anxiety attacks, and usually peak and subside within 10 minutes or so.
Panic attacks are recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). They’re linked with panic disorder, which impacts 2.7% of adults in the United States, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).
On the other hand, anxiety attacks aren’t officially recognized by the DSM-5, so the definition of what constitutes an attack can be a bit vague.
Anxiety attacks are associated with a few conditions, including:
- generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
In addition, specific triggers tend to be connected to anxiety attacks, such as:
- work stress
- family problems
- too much caffeine
- alcohol or drug withdrawal
- chronic pain
- recalling past traumas
Roughly 3.1% of U.S. adults live with generalized anxiety disorder, and women tend to receive diagnoses more often than men.
With so much overlap, it can be difficult to tell the difference between a panic attack versus an anxiety attack. Here is a chart that may help:
Panic attacks and anxiety attacks differ in intensity and duration. It’s impossible to say which kind of attack is “worse,” since each person’s experience is different.
Panic attacks can be frightening because they happen without warning or an obvious trigger. The symptoms can be intense and disruptive, often accompanied with a feeling of being disconnected from reality.
Though they’re usually short in duration, it’s possible to get several panic attacks in a row, which can make the experience of panic feel longer.
Anxiety is a response to a known trigger, which may be less startling for some. The symptoms do tend to last longer than a panic attack, often building over hours or days. Symptoms of anxiety exist on a spectrum, ranging from mild to severe.
Depending on the kinds of symptoms you experience with anxiety or a panic attack, you might find different approaches to care helpful.
Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, may be an effective way to identify your anxiety triggers and learn how to manage them. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), is one popular form of therapy that helps people manage and reduce symptoms related to anxiety and panic.
Some other forms of therapy that could help include:
- exposure and response prevention therapy (ERP)
- acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
- somatic therapies, like somatic experiencing
- panic-focused psychodynamic therapy
- eye movement desensitization and preprocessing (EMDR)
A doctor or psychiatrist may prescribe medication for recurring panic attacks or anxiety, either with therapy or all by itself. A prescription could include:
- anti-anxiety medications
It’s important to note that the
A high-stress lifestyle, certain foods, and lack of sleep could all contribute to more frequent and intense anxiety or panic attacks. To support your treatment, consider incorporating one or more of the following lifestyle changes:
- work to manage stressors as best you can
- drink plenty of water
- develop a support network
- get regular, moderate exercise
- sleep for at least 8 hours a night whenever possible
- limit substances like caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol
- eat a balanced, nutrient-dense diet
- practice meditation, mindfulness, or yoga
- join a support group for those with panic or anxiety attacks
If you’re experiencing a panic attack or anxiety attack right now, here are some popular ways to get relief.
Acknowledge the anxiety
Psychologist Carl Jung said, “What you resist, persists.” When anxiety rears its head, it can actually help to accept what’s taking place. Consider leaning a little into the discomfort — whether it’s buzzing in your legs, pounding in your chest, or even knots in your stomach — with curiosity.
It can also help to limit this exploration to manageable amounts of time, like 10 seconds, so you don’t get overwhelmed. As you explore, you can remind yourself that these feelings are temporary, and that they will pass.
When the sympathetic nervous system (fight, flight, or freeze mode) is engaged, your breathing naturally becomes more shallow. Connecting with your breath is one of the fastest ways to activate the parasympathetic nervous system (“rest and digest” mode).
Find a comfortable place to lay down or take a comfortable seated position. Try a few of these techniques and repeat as many times as needed.
- Box breathing. Inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4. Exhale for 4, hold for 4. Repeat 10 times.
- Alternate nostril breathing. Bring your right thumb over your right nostril. Inhale and exhale through your left nostril. Repeat 8 times, then switch nostrils.
- 4-7-8 breathing. Place the tip of your tongue behind your two front teeth. Do a closed-mouth inhale for 4, hold for 7, open-mouth exhale for 8.
Listen to calming music
In some research, the song “Weightless” by Marconi Union has been shown to reduce anxiety. Here’s the original song on YouTube, along with a 10-hour version for those really tough days.
Music you personally find calming could likely have the same anxiety-reducing effect.
Drink some tea
- black cohosh
Take CBD oil
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a nonpsychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant, meaning that it won’t get you “high.”
If CBD oil is legal in your area, you might work with a “budtender” at a local dispensary to find out what dose is right for you. You may consider oil with no THC or a low ratio of THC to CBD, like 16:1 or 8:1.
Of course, it’s also important to check with your doctor before incorporating alternative treatments into your care routine — especially if you’re taking other medications.
You can find out everything you need to know about CBD here.
There’s a reason spas are so relaxing.
Other essential oils you can try include:
- clary sage
Put a few drops of one scent into your diffuser, climb into a warm bath, and rub your temples for anxiety relief.
Essential oils are considered natural and safe, but they are potent. It’s key to purchase them from a reputable brand and avoid putting them directly on the skin without mixing them with a carrier oil, like coconut oil.
While research suggests there are health benefits, the FDA doesn’t monitor or regulate the purity or quality of essential oils. It’s important to talk with your healthcare provider before you begin using essential oils and be sure to research the quality of a brand’s products. Always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.
Panic attacks and anxiety attacks are treatable conditions and may include therapy, medications, lifestyle changes, and home treatments.
Now that you know the difference between a panic attack and an anxiety attack, reach out to your primary care doctor to discuss the best treatment options for you.
It can also help to know that you’re not alone. Here are some articles that explore what it’s like to live with panic attacks and anxiety:
- Living with Panic Disorder: What It’s Like
- Living with an Anxiety Disorder: Home Remedies for Relief
- 10 Things People with Anxiety Need To Do Every Day
No matter how you’re feeling right now, know that these feelings of panic or anxiety will subside. With a few tools and tricks up your sleeve, you’ll be well-equipped to ride the waves.
Panic Attack vs Anxiety Attack: What’s the Difference?
Although panic attacks and anxiety attacks are often conflated, they are two distinct conditions with distinct symptoms. In general, panic attacks are abrupt, intense and unexpected, while anxiety attacks are prolonged periods of anxiety. The two experiences share some physical symptoms, including increased heart rate and hyperventilation.
It is important to note the clinical distinctions between the two conditions using the D iagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th edition (DSM-5) as a basis. The DSM-5 is the psychiatric field’s authority on psychiatric diagnosis criteria, treatment recommendations, contemporary terminology and updated scientific findings and research. Panic attacks are defined as a specifier that can be applicable to all disorders in the DSM-5 – meaning they provide context to the disorder being diagnosed and can corroborate the diagnosis of any disorder is defined in the DSM-5, however, anxiety attacks do not appear in the Manual as a symptom, specifier or condition. Further, panic attacks can be a specifier or a symptom of any psychiatric disorder defined in the DSM-5 , while anxiety itself is only considered a symptom of anxiety disorders.
What’s the Difference?
Everyone experiences moments of anxiety, panic, nervousness and stress, such as when speaking in front of a crowd, hearing a noise in the dark or jumping away from a spider. These moments are normal, even necessary, for humans to interact in the world.
“We all know moments like these, ones when a period of anxiety – nervousness – passes over us. The difference between these experiences and a diagnosis of anxiety is primarily one of magnitude but also of impact.” says Anne Marie Dine, Director of Outpatient Services at Foundations Atlanta at Midtown.
Then, there are panic attacks.
“Panic attacks on the other hand don’t come in reaction to a stressor,” Dine says. “It’s unprovoked and unpredictable. During a panic attack, the individual is seized with terror, fear or apprehension. They may feel that they’re going to die or lose control or have a heart attack. They have a host of physical symptoms which may include chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness and nausea. And in addition to these terrifying panic attacks, people start worrying about having the next one. So, there’s a lot of what’s called anticipatory anxiety.”
When Craig experienced his panic attack and was rushed to the ER, he firmly believed he was having a heart attack – the symptoms were that strong. The good news is that panic attacks and chronic anxiety are common and treatable. Often, it’s the stigmas surrounding mental illness that keep people from seeking help.
What Is the Difference Between a Panic Attack and an Anxiety Attack?
Both panic attacks and anxiety attacks cause you to feel intense, overwhelming emotions. While these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they&rsquore not exactly the same thing. Both panic and anxiety attacks activate your nervous system to send you into fight-or-flight mode, causing physical and emotional symptoms. Their differences lie in what causes the attack.
Difference between panic attacks and anxiety attacks
Knowing the difference between panic and anxiety attacks can help you understand the symptoms before and during the episode.
A panic attack causes you to feel intense, sudden fear that can be overwhelming and immobilizing. They can happen for no reason, or a triggering event can cause one. During a panic attack, you may feel terrified or threatened.
Some people experience panic attacks as a part of panic disorder, and others only have them once or occasionally. Panic attacks usually only last a few minutes.
An anxiety attack occurs when stress, anxiety, and worry become overwhelming. They are brought on by persistent worry either over big events, like illness and death, or small, everyday things. The attack is the result of building anxiety over time that reaches a breaking point.
An anxiety attack is not so much an attack but just when anxiety comes to a head. They are episodes of intense worry, fear, and dread that trigger physical symptoms. They feel more predictable since they are the result of you worrying about something.
Symptoms of panic attacks and anxiety attacks
Panic and anxiety attacks have physical symptoms that can help you understand what is happening with your mind and body.
Symptoms of a panic attack
Panic attacks are usually sudden and reach their peak within a few minutes. While they are debilitating at the moment, people usually recover within less than an hour.
If you&rsquore having a panic attack, you&rsquoll likely experience four or more of the following symptoms as it happens:
Researchers estimate that one-third of people will have a panic attack at some point in their lives. People who have had a panic attack once may likely have them again. Repeated panic attacks are a sign of a panic disorder.
Symptoms of an anxiety attack
Anxiety attacks are usually very frightening and peak in about ten minutes. Because of the intensity, you might even think that you are having a heart attack. Some symptoms of anxiety include:
- A wave of overwhelming panic
- The feeling of loss of control
- Heart palpitations and chest pain and nausea
- Feeling like you can&rsquot breathe or will pass out
You may even start to avoid certain situations because you are afraid that they will trigger an anxiety attack.
Causes of panic attacks and anxiety attacks
Panic and anxiety attacks can often be brought on by worry and fear, but in different ways.
Causes of a panic attack
A panic attack can be caused by a stressful event or nothing at all. They happen suddenly, usually without warning, and can even occur when you&rsquore sleeping or relaxed.
Panic attacks can be brought on by certain conditions:
Your panic attack can be the result of your body trying to get you out of a situation that is perceived as dangerous. This response puts your body into fight-or-flight mode.
Causes of an anxiety attack
Anxiety is characterized by excessive worry or fear about a certain situation. Anxiety can cause you to have trouble rationalizing the situation and brings about feelings of dread and apprehension.
People who have anxiety attacks may also have an anxiety disorder, of which there are several.
Diagnosis for panic attacks and anxiety attacks
In the past, it was more difficult to diagnose panic and anxiety attacks. The symptoms that come with them are similar to those of many other illnesses, including heart disease, thyroid disorders, and breathing disorders. If you have an attack, you should see your doctor to make sure that the cause of these symptoms is not a serious medical condition.
If you find yourself having panic or anxiety attacks, or anxiety in general, a therapist or mental health professional can help to pinpoint these causes. They may also be able to help diagnose if you have a panic or anxiety disorder that triggers the attacks.
Clinical vs. Colloquial Terms
The key difference between the term panic attack and the term anxiety attack is that panic attack is a clinical term whereas anxiety attack is a colloquial term.
Clinical terms are those that are used in the health care profession and have a specific definition. Terms that are used in the medical field are very precise and have specific meanings. When health care professionals use the term panic attack they are specifically referring to episodes that meet the DSM-5 criteria for a panic attack. This terminology allows medical personnel to better communicate with each other about specific medical conditions and treatments.
Colloquial terms are terms that have developed a meaning from their general use in society and may not have a specific meaning. The term anxiety attack will not normally be used in the health care community, but may sometimes be used by an individual to describe their unique experience.
Health care workers will not use the term anxiety attack when communicating with each other, as it does not have a specific meaning and could be interpreted differently by different people. While the term anxiety attack may not be used in clinical settings, that does not mean it doesn’t have a place. Anxiety attack has an understood meaning in society and can communicate that someone had an episode of extreme and uncontrolled anxiety.
Panic Attack Vs. Anxiety Attack: What&rsquos The Difference?
Panic attack and anxiety attack are two conditions that are used interchangeably, but these two terms have different meanings. Panic attacks involve an abrupt surge of intense discomfort or fear and are usually accompanied by mental and physical symptoms.
On the other hand, anxiety is something everyone experiences. This includes the protective and emotional responses of people and is hardwired into the body. It is when this condition becomes excessive that it causes concern. If you want to know more about a panic attack vs. anxiety attack, Encore Health Group is here to help you with our Tennessee mental health treatment program
About Panic Attacks
Panic attacks involve the sudden and unexpected onset of fear. This is most often marked by a racing heartbeat, nausea, and chest tightness. If someone has multiple episodes of panic attacks, they might have a panic disorder, which is a type of anxiety disorder. This is characterized by recurring attacks that can affect one&rsquos daily life.
Symptoms of a Panic Attack
According to the manual used by mental health professionals to diagnose patients (the DSM-5), there are 13 major symptoms of a panic attack. These include:
- Increased heart rate
- Choking sensation
- Shortness of breath
If one is exhibiting at least four of these symptoms, they may be recognized as someone who is having a panic attack. Be sure to seek out an anxiety treatment program in Tennessee if you are struggling with anxiety.
About Anxiety Attacks
An anxiety attack refers to a mental rush of anxiety, which is oftentimes brought about by feelings such as stress and worry. At first glance, this may seem like a panic attack, although not as intense. One example of an anxiety attack is when a person with generalized anxiety fears that the elevator would crash, even though it&rsquos unlikely that it would happen.
Symptoms of an Anxiety Attack
Unlike panic attacks, anxiety attacks are not referenced in the DSM-5. This condition is generally described as a manifestation of an anxiety disorder and may present the same symptoms as a panic attack, although not as severe. The symptoms include:
- Increase heart rate
- Sense of doom
- Chest pains
Panic Attack Vs. Anxiety Attack: Dealing with It
If you&rsquove ever had a panic attack or anxiety attack, you know how scary it can be. Many people dealing with substance abuse usually experience one of the two. In these cases, dual diagnosis is needed at a dual diagnosis treatment center. Here are some ways you can combat these conditions.
When you have an anxiety attack or panic attack, you may think that you are losing your mind. This is because the feeling is extremely intense, and it can happen out of the blue. Learning about panic attacks and anxiety attacks and recognizing their symptoms will help you keep it together next time you experience one of these conditions. It will help if you can tell yourself that it&rsquos only an episode, and it would not kill you. Although it&rsquos uncomfortable, it will end soon.
It is recommended to keep a log of your anxiety and panic attacks, including where and when they happen, and how long they last. Also, try to examine if your episode was triggered by something. A good way to monitor this is through an individual counseling program. This way, you can find a way to manage the trigger. Tracking is also a good way of dealing with panic attacks since you feel more confident if you see it happening less often or for a shorter period.
Just Breathe and Distract Yourself
Breathing exercises will calm your panic response and help your heart rate return to normal. It also helps to distract yourself with something else, such as smelling a soothing scent like lavender or petting your dog.
Do Not Be Afraid to Seek Help
Knowing the difference between a panic attack and an anxiety attack will help you make the most out of your life. And if you think you need help, do not be afraid to contact Encore Health Group. Our reliable team of professionals will evaluate your condition and help you tackle these problems.
We know it may feel overwhelming to learn that someone you love has been diagnosed with a mental health disorder. The good news is that you and your loved one have options available. Most mental health disorders are treatable.
Researching how to find mental health counseling can feel intimidating if you&rsquove never sought out treatment before. Perhaps you&rsquove been feeling &ldquooff&rdquo for a while.
Perhaps you&rsquove heard a doctor mention holistic therapy in passing. Or maybe you read something about it online, but you don&rsquot quite understand what it means.
Maybe someone you love has been diagnosed with depression. Or maybe you&rsquore just concerned because your loved one has been acting differently lately. Learn about the symptoms of the illness and the best ways you can support any loved one with.
Caring for a loved one with anxiety can be difficult, especially if you&rsquore not familiar with the condition. Just know you and your loved one are not alone.
You may be wondering, &ldquoWhat are co-occurring disorders?&rdquo Well, a person can have two mental illnesses at one time. For instance, someone with alcohol addiction can also have an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety attacks occur after a prolonged period of worry about specific triggers. They can also last a long time, and symptoms are mild, moderate, or severe. It is usually a gradual build-up, but symptoms can feel intense and overwhelming.
In comparison, panic attacks are sudden and do not need an external or internal stressor. They are more extreme and do not last more than 20 minutes on average. There are more physical symptoms and are disruptive to whatever you are doing.
You can experience panic attacks as part of an anxiety disorder or separate. Anxiety attacks often warrant a diagnosis, but a one-off panic attack usually does not.
Panic Attacks vs. Anxiety Attacks: What’s the difference?
Windowofworld.com – Maybe you’ve heard people talk about panic attacks & anxiety attacks as if the two things are the same. When in fact it’s different. Panic attacks come suddenly and involve intense and excessive fear. Usually followed by a rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath or nausea. Panic attacks can happen to anyone, but if they occur too often it can mean that the person is suffering from panic disorder.
While anxiety attacks are usually associated with situations, conditions, or experiences that create stress and can come gradually.
The lack of recognition of diagnoses from anxiety attacks makes the signs confusing. One particular person might get an anxiety attack and those signs might also not be found in someone who has another anxiety attack. Continue, what’s the difference?
1. First, we first identify the second symptom of this attack
Panic attacks and anxiety may feel the same, and indeed both have a lot in common emotional and physical signs.
You can experience both of them simultaneously. In short, you can experience anxiety attacks while thinking about situations that make you stressed like a presentation in the office. When that time comes, your anxiety will divide into panic attacks.
It might be a bit difficult to distinguish whether you are panicking or worrying. Here’s the difference:
- Anxiety is usually associated with something that you think is threatening or stressful. Panic is usually not always triggered by things that are stressful and usually just show up, don’t know where.
- Anxiety can be mild, moderate, or severe. For example, anxiety can just happen when you do daily activities. Panic, on the other hand, is mostly severe, the symptoms you can feel and that is very disturbing.
- When you have a panic attack, your body will take over everything. Physical signs are often more intense in panic attacks than anxiety attacks.
- When anxiety can come slowly, panic attacks usually directly hit you brutally.
- Panic attacks usually trigger anxiety or fear that is usually associated with other attacks. This of course will have an effect on your behavior, making you avoid places or situations where you think you will potentially be hit by another panic attack.
2. Second, we recognize what causes it
The cause of panic attacks until now can not be ascertained what triggered it. Panic and anxiety attacks can be triggered by similar and similar things, such as:
- Stressful work
- Unexpected social situation
- Remembering traumatic events
- Chronic diseases, such as heart problems, diabetes, etc.
- Are trying to be clean of alcohol and drugs
- Supplements and medicines
- Thyroid problem
3. Third, what are the two risk factors?
Both have similar risk factors, including:
- Experienced trauma or witnessed a traumatic event
- Experiencing stressful things, such as family death or divorce
- Experiencing things that are depressing, such as work responsibilities, family conflicts, unstable financial conditions
- Have other mental disorders, such as depression
People who have experienced anxiety are more prone to panic attacks. But, feeling anxious doesn’t mean you will get panic attacks.
4. Fourth, how can we get a diagnosis like this?
Doctors cannot diagnose anxiety attacks, but can diagnose:
The doctor will ask you about the signs you are experiencing and conduct a series of tests to find out other health conditions such as heart health, sugar levels, or thyroid problems
5. Fifth, how do you feel better if you have the tendency to get this attack?
First, you should consult with a doctor or professional to find out more about these two things so you know what you have to do. Doing therapy and disciplining it will make you feel that you are in control of how you feel.
If you feel you will panic or worry, try to:
- Breathe slowly. If your breathing is fast, focus on breathing in and out. Repeat until your breath begins to regulate.
- Try to accept it and get to know it as best you can. You might have had a panic attack and it’s not good. Remind yourself that this attack will not last forever and you will be fine.
6. Sixth, what maintenance needs to be done?
Always consult a doctor about treatment / treatment for both of these. Some treatments might be the same, such as:
Often, your doctor will recommend several combinations for your treatment. Despite many similarities, these two things are very different. Panic attacks will feel more intense and are often followed by symptoms of physical changes that are very pronounced.
Never feel shy or inferior to consult a psychologist or doctor. Remember, you are not alone. You have the right to have a calm and controlled life.
Panic Attack or Anxiety Attack? What Is the Difference?
With school starting and a socially-distanced fall right around the corner, many of us are experiencing more stress and anxiety. Occasionally, a build-up of stress can cause uncomfortable physical changes that can make us feel like something is wrong with our body.
Racing heartbeats, tense muscles and trouble breathing can be symptoms of a panic attack in adults and children rising blood pressure, tunnel vision, shaking or trembling can also happen. It can be hard to sit still or even catch a thought. Friends, family members and even doctors may suggest that we are having a panic attack? Or is it an anxiety attack? What is the difference?
Panic and anxiety attacks are very similar in fact, the terms are used interchangeably. In both, there is an activation of the nervous system when your body is getting ready to protect you through fight or flight. This causes an overwhelming rush of the physical symptoms mentioned earlier.
There are also some changes in the way we think. Thoughts can feel fast, become scary or negative, or even cease altogether. Scary images can pop up in our minds. We can feel like blacking out and, in rare cases, we can lose consciousness. This can be very frightening!
Although they feel very similar, there are differences between anxiety and panic attacks - a major difference is what happens before the attack.
A panic attack often feels and seems unpredictable, sneaky, or even surprising. They can happen unexpectedly or be brought on by a subtle trigger, as seen in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Since they are so unexpected, many parents may think something is wrong with their child and will call or go to a doctor.
An anxiety attack feels more predictable, often being the result of a build-up of anxiety or worry. This is referred to as anticipatory anxiety. You may realize that your child is stressed and aren&rsquot as surprised when that bubbles over to an anxiety attack.
So, what can we do during an attack? Here a few strategies taught by mental health therapists:
Grounding. Grounding is a term that means purposefully focusing on things in our environment. It can be as simple as focusing on the feeling of the chair we are in or paying attention to the way our cup looks. By focusing attention on something that we know is safe, we create a sense of comfort. Our bodies relax. Additional ways to ground include finding a certain number of things you can see, feel, hear, smell, and/or taste. Focus intently on those items.
Breathe. Breathing is a powerful form of grounding and calming the body. Try to focus on the breath. How does it feels in your nose, throat, and lungs? Try to slow your breathing. Consider breathing to a count of four or five, if helpful. You can imagine you are moving a ball around a track or blowing and deflating a balloon with your breathe.
Talking to yourself. If your child able, have them talk kindly to themself. Words and thoughts are powerful. If possible, have them remind themself that they are okay. If kind words and encouragement aren&rsquot possible, play mental games. How many states can you name? Do you remember the words to your favorite song? Can you imagine your favorite place?
Finally, it is important not worry too much about your child having more attacks. Panic and anxiety attacks are very common with about 40% of people having at least one attack in their lives.
Worrying about, dreading, or fearing an attack can cause more stress. This can make it more likely that people will start to avoid activities for fear of an attack. In some cases, attacks can be related to an underlying anxiety disorder that requires treatment by a mental health professional.