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What is the Difference Between Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder?

Social anxiety disorder and panic disorder are both aspects of the overall mental health category of anxiety disorders. Understanding and treating anxiety disorder and panic disorder is a difficult task. This is because, while there is a clear distinction between these two disorders, many people — including trained medical professionals — don't make the distinction. Sometimes they don't even tell a person that the symptoms he is experiencing could be related to one of the disorders, and the conditions go undiagnosed and untreated.

People with panic disorder strongly believe their panic attacks, which entail brief attacks of intense terror, stem from a physical cause. Many of the episodes are related to a fear of physical harm. For example, a person with a headache may have a panic attack, fearing he has a brain tumor or an aneurism. Such a thought might cross the mind of a headache sufferer who doesn't also suffer from panic disorder, only to be quickly dismissed as a silly notion. Someone suffering from panic disorder won't dismiss it; instead, he's likely to end up in a doctor's office, if not an emergency room, demanding treatment for what he sees as a life-threatening condition.

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People suffering from anxiety disorder do not blame their problem on a medical condition or physical ill. They, instead, are the people most likely to be pegged as shy, and they more often suffer long-lasting anxiety that isn't the result of a specific fear or situation. In most cases, people suffering from anxiety disorder worry about general, everyday activities. This leads to a stressful and worry-filled life that takes a severe toll on the person’s mind and body.

The main difference between anxiety disorder and panic disorder is that people with anxiety disorder do not experience intense terror attacks accompanied by fear of physical, medical problems at random intervals. Rather, they are more consistently worrisome and stressed on a day-to-day basis. Anxiety disorder may lead to brief moments of panic, but it is not brought on by physical sensations leading to the fear of having a medical disease. Rather, people with anxiety disorder have very high levels of anxiety along with an adrenaline rush.

People with panic disorder are usually lively, active people. In contrast, people with anxiety disorder rarely have a cheerful outlook on life. This develops into two entirely different lifestyles among people with anxiety disorder and panic disorder. For example, a person suffering from panic disorder can live a life with a high level of happiness, regardless of the fact that he suffers from panic attacks. People suffering from anxiety disorder struggle to be happy, because they live with a constant high level of anxiety over an extended period.

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