What Makes a Panic Disorder Different Than an Anxiety Disorder?

What Makes a Panic Disorder Different Than an Anxiety Disorder?

There is a lot of confusion surrounding the different types of anxiety disorders. Panic disorder is one anxiety disorder that is often less talked about and understood.

If you think you or someone you care about may be experiencing some kind of anxiety disorder, it is important to educate yourself on what to look for and how to help. Understanding the differences and similarities can help you decide how to handle your symptoms. It will also be very important to be able to have educated discussions with your healthcare provider if you decide you need extra support.

Anxiety Disorders

People who are affected by anxiety disorders have overwhelming fears and worries. These feelings can be persistent and intense. Often the anxiety interferes with daily activities and is very difficult or impossible to overcome. Sometimes anxiety disorders require treatment from a qualified mental health team. This is why it is important to understand anxiety orders. 

Types of Anxiety Disorder

There are several distinct types of anxiety disorders, including: 

  • Generalized anxiety disorder: Also known as GAD, this disorder presents with persistent fear, worry, or physical tension, even when there is no cause to feel that way. 
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is another anxiety disorder that causes a person to have unwanted, often obsessive, and repetitive behaviors. It may lead to repetitive behaviors such as counting, cleaning, hand-washing, or checking on things over and over.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): This form develops after exposure to a traumatic event or experience. It is often associated with violent personal assaults and military combat. PTSD can cause extreme paranoia and flashbacks to the trauma, causing intense anxiety.
  •  Social anxiety disorder: Social anxiety disorder is characterized by anxiety and extreme self-consciousness in social situations. These feelings will overwhelm a person to the point they can’t perform normal tasks in social situations, or they might avoid social obligations altogether.
  • Panic disorder: Symptoms of this form include unexpected episodes of intense fear. A person will experience physical symptoms that can include chest pain, shortness of breath, and dizziness. These episodes happen repeatedly and affect a person’s ability to function in their daily lives.

Understanding Panic Disorder

A panic attack can cause you to feel sudden and unexplained waves of fear or intense discomfort. You might suddenly feel overstimulated and out of control. These reactions can cause you to become hyperaware and jumpy. Not everyone who experiences a panic attack will develop a panic disorder, though. A panic disorder is when a person has repeated panic attacks that are unpredictable and interrupt daily life. 

The symptoms of a panic disorder can disrupt your life in profound ways. It might get to the point that you are missing work or finding yourself unable to meet deadlines. You might avoid appointments with doctors or other professionals. If you are experiencing a panic disorder, you may also start altering your life in significant ways in an attempt to avoid more panic attacks. 

Sometimes a panic disorder can lead to agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is another anxiety disorder in which a person develops a fear of open or crowded places, fear of leaving their home, or fear of being somewhere that they can’t escape easily. 

Panic disorders can also have a significant impact on your relationships. If you are feeling vulnerable and stressed, you might try to cope with those feelings by becoming overly dependent on your significant other, friends, or family members. Becoming too demanding or needy might cause feelings of frustration or resentment within your relationship. This can happen very easily, especially if your family members do not understand what you are experiencing.

Treatments for Panic Disorder 

If you think that you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of a panic disorder, the first step to take is to talk to a healthcare provider. It might be necessary to have a doctor give you a physical exam to ensure no underlying physical conditions contribute to your symptoms. A healthcare provider can also be a good point of contact if you need a referral to a mental health professional. Finding someone that can help you diagnose your symptoms correctly is crucial. 

Anxiety disorders, including panic disorders, are generally treated with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both. Therapy will help you understand the root of your disorder, including any traumas that may have been triggering events. During therapy, you will also learn coping skills that can help you handle any challenges that you might encounter. Medication can help alleviate symptoms of panic disorder so that you can function in your daily life. 

Educating yourself on anxiety disorders and panic disorders is essential if you think you are exhibiting symptoms. If you are experiencing mental health challenges affecting your work or home life, we can help you at Alter Wellness Care. Not only can we help you understand and explore your symptoms, but we can also get you on the road to recovery.

If you or a loved one are experiencing anxiety symptoms that are interfering with your relationships or your ability to fulfill your responsibilities, you may need some extra support. At Alter Wellness Care, we have a compassionate team of professionals that offer a variety of evidence-based therapies. We have numerous resources that can help you gain more control over your symptoms and alleviate the effects they may be having on your life. We want to work with you to help you better understand your symptoms and put together a treatment plan that will help you achieve your goals. Call Alter Wellness Care today at (866) 311-3510 for more information on the resources that can help you.

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