Panic Disorder vs. Social Anxiety Disorder

Although many people think of them as one and the same thing, panic disorder and social anxiety disorder are two seperate mental illnesses. Although panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder, it actually differs greatly from social anxiety disorder in a variety of ways.  Read on to find out more about panic disorders and anxiety disorders and to learn how each condition is similar and different.  Also find out more about what triggers each condition and about how to treat each disorder.

Physical Illness

People with panic disorder genuinely fear for their lives when they are having a panic attack. Many sufferers believe that their attacks are actually signs of a medical illness that could take their lives.

People with social anxiety disorder do not believe that they have a physical illness. They realize that their symptoms are not caused by a medical complication, such as a stroke or cancer. Instead, they understand that their panic attacks are related to emotions of fear and terror caused by their social surroundings.

Social Factors

People with panic disorder also vary greatly from people with other anxiety disorders. Individuals with panic disorder want very much to be with others and participate in life. People with panic disorder are only afraid of having a panic attack in a place where they will be unable to control or handle their symptoms.

Unlike panic disorder sufferers, social anxiety sufferers are afraid of the social situations themselves, and fear being judged, ridiculed, or unaccepted by others. Even though they desperately want to interact with others, individuals with social anxiety often isolate themselves because of their social fears. People with social anxiety tend to be chronically shy and may have difficulty participating in conversations with those around them. This fear may trigger panic attacks in individuals with social anxiety.

Although they are similar, it is possible to suffer only from panic disorder or social anxiety disorder. However, some people may suffer from a combination of the two disorders.

Both conditions may require specific anti depressant medications for treatment as well as behavioral therapy.  Check out our other articles specific to each condition to learn more.

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