Generalized Anxiety Disorder Vs. Panic Disorder

Lots of people mistakenly think of generalized anxiety disorder when they hear about someone having anxiety. The truth is there are seven types of anxiety disorders, each with their own set of criteria for diagnosis. Two of them are generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder.

Exploring the differences could be the next step in getting you or your loved one some help.

Panic Disorder

People suffering from panic disorder are at the mercy of sudden and often frequent panic attacks. While panic is a normal emotion to feel from time to time, under the right (or wrong) circumstances, those with panic disorder experience intense feelings of fear, terror, or apprehension. To make things worse, these feelings are typically not brought on by actual danger.

It doesn’t stop there though, panic attacks are usually accompanied by symptoms that leave the individual feeling bad like shortness of breath, hyperventilating, accelerated heart rate, chest pain, trembling/shaking and beyond.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder is more about excessive feelings of worry. So much so that the person feels like they can’t even manage all the worrying they do. This type of worry must be long-term for a diagnosis, at least six months or longer. Often, worry gets so bad that daily life is interrupted. While those with panic disorder might be stressed and focused on when they might experience their next panic attack, those with GAD can focus on typical life circumstances like parenthood, finances, health, and other day to day life events.

With GAD there are also other symptoms that accompany the worry but not so much like those with panic disorder. GAD sufferers often experience fatigue, sleep issues and disturbances, restlessness, and digestive issues.

For a select few, it’s possible to have co-existing disorders and be privy to both GAD and panic disorder. If you are experiencing symptoms of GAD, panic disorder, or both, you should reach out and get some help from a qualified provider to help you take back your quality of life sooner rather than later!

Ankrom, S. “What’s the Difference Between Panic Disorder and GAD?”. Very Well Mind. (website). April 2018
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