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Panic Disorders and Social Anxiety

A mental health condition in which a person is consumed with the fear of being negatively judged is known as social anxiety disorder. Individuals irrationally fear that they are being evaluated by others, which may cause them to become embarrassed or humiliated in front of others for no reason. In some cases, they may avoid social situations altogether. Similar to panic disorder, social anxiety disorder can adversely affect someone’s quality of life. Social anxiety disorder and panic disorder have similar qualities, which include nervousness, persistent fear, and physical sensations that include shaking and trembling. Each of these disorders comes with a specific set of diagnostic criteria that makes them distinctly unique. To understand these diagnoses more clearly, they are compared by several factors.

Feelings of Fear and Avoidance

Panic disorder may develop with or without agoraphobia, or a fear of experiencing panic attack symptoms that are either emotionally or physically difficult to escape. Someone with panic disorder typically fears the physical symptoms of panic attacks, and they believe a medical issue could be causing their discomfort. 

Over an extended period, someone may feel more secure from these attacks by removing themselves from certain situations and staying home. Agoraphobia will develop when a person no longer feels safe from leaving their safe zone without experiencing fear.

Social anxiety disorder is the fear of being the center of attention or behaving in a way that could cause embarrassment or criticism in front of others. The fear of public humiliation in a social setting is enough to push someone into avoiding social or public interactions. The avoidance differs from agoraphobia because the individual is concerned with scrutiny, which is different from fearing a panic attack.

Symptoms of Panic Disorder and Social Anxiety

Panic disorders are viewed as recurrent panic attacks that may arise without warning. Many of the physical symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, shaking, or heart palpitations, may lead the person to feel like they are in danger. The individual may also believe they are either losing control or going insane.

Social anxiety disorders typically involve physical symptoms that are similar to panic attacks, and these include trembling or excessive sweating. These symptoms will only be brought up when faced with or thinking about social or public interactions. Other symptoms of social anxiety disorder include muscle tension, low self-esteem, blushing, and completely avoiding social contact.

Social Interactions

Individuals with panic disorder commonly feel embarrassed about letting other people see them have a panic attack. A trusted family member or friend can help someone with panic disorder, and those struggling often enjoy social interactions and will benefit from social support. Many individuals will experience loneliness while trying to keep their panic disorder a secret.

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Those who are living with a social anxiety disorder will also experience a high degree of loneliness. While they may want to interact with others, they find their anxiety to be too overwhelming to let go of it. Family members and friends must be patient while helping a loved one overcome social anxiety disorder.

Sources

Sources Panic Disorder. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/panic-disorder-4157235

Cuncic, A. (2019, June 24). Understanding the Causes of Social Anxiety Disorder. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/social-anxiety-disorder-causes-3024749

Star, K. (2019, September 30). How Social Anxiety Symptoms and Panic Attacks Differ. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/panic-disorder-and-social-anxiety-disorder-2584233

Agoraphobia. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/agoraphobia.shtml

Heart Palpitations. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/heart-palpitations

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