Anxiety Disorder vs. Panic Disorder: What’s the Difference?

Young woman suffering from anxiety disorder

Dane O'Leary September 24, 2020

Rose never can seem to relax. She worries about the outcome of everything, always assuming the worst and catastrophizing situations (making them seem worse than they really are). 

Rose suffers from anxiety disorder, a chronic condition that often magnifies stress brought on by work, family and everyday life. Anxiety disorder is an umbrella or generic term for more specific mental health conditions. Chandler, for example, suffers from a type of anxiety disorder called panic disorder. 

Unlike other anxiety disorders, or generalized anxiety disorder, symptoms of panic disorder can develop for seemingly no reason at all. 

Anxiety disorder

Anxiety disorder affects about 2.7 percent of Americans over the age of 18, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health. It is defined by symptoms that go on for at least six months. Anxiety disorder is slightly more common in females (3.4 percent) than in males (1.9 percent), according to the NIMH.

Almost 6 percent of Americans experience anxiety disorder at some point. About one in three Americans who suffer from anxiety disorder experience severe symptoms, while seven in 10 display moderate or mild distress.

In addition to a pessimistic attitude, symptoms of anxiety disorder can include:

  • Upset stomach including diarrhea
  • Frequent urination
  • Headaches
  • Jumpiness or irritability
  • Twitching or tremors

How to Treat Anxiety Disorder

There is hope for a better life for people like Rose, who always think the worst will come of everything, and Chandler, who finds herself in a fight for her life in her mind, for no apparent reason. 

People who work in mental health care have plenty of options for how to treat anxiety disorder. They include:

  • Anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines (Xanax, Ativan). These medications can be very addictive, especially for people prone to alcohol abuse. However, such medications can be effective for those who do not have a history of addiction or alcoholism. These medications also are effective when someone is having an acute panic attack.
  • Talk therapy, also known as cognitive behavioral therapy, a more popular anxiety treatment option for most doctors and addiction counselors. This type of therapy helps people get out of that negative cycle of thinking the worst is always going to happen.
  • Music therapy. Studies have shown that music can help people relax and unwind.
  • Deep breathing exercises. Taking deep breaths through the nose and out the mouth can calm an anxious mind and help reduce the effects of panic disorder.
  • Aromatherapy. Studies have shown that certain scents, such as lavender, can calm an anxious mind when someone feels the effects of panic disorder coming on.
  • Exercise is a great way to burn off aggravation and is a great option for treating anxiety disorder and avoiding panic attacks.

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is a specific type of anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorder is an umbrella term for several different types of anxiety disorders. When someone like Chandler has an attack come on it can make her feel like she truly is going to die. People with panic disorder experience exaggerated fears that their life is in immediate danger, usually for no real or perceived reason.

Effects of Panic Disorder

According to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill., effects of panic disorder often include acute physical symptoms, including:

  • A racing heart in addition to overwhelming thoughts of panic, that the worst is going to happen at any second, and that it is out of your control.
  • Feeling like you are going to have a heart attack.
  • Upset stomach, including diarrhea
  • Profuse sweating, especially in the palms
  • Shortness of breath
  • Numbness or tingling

Panic attacks are serious and need immediate medical attention. Left untreated, the effects of panic disorder can become more frequent and worsen. The effects of panic disorder could snowball into out-of-control, dangerous situations when a patient is not under a doctor’s care.

People like Chandler and Rose deserve to find treatment so they can live satisfying lives with anxiety disorder.

Conquer Your Anxiety at Silicon Beach Treatment Center

Silicon Beach Treatment Center is your premier destination for the treatment of anxiety disorders and even panic disorder. At our facilities in Los Angeles, our team of clinicians will dig down to find the root of your anxiety to determine the best possible treatments.

Life without anxiety or panic attacks should be the rule, not the exception. Over time, living with anxiety and panic attacks can age the body and sap the joy out of life. At Silicon Beach Treatment Center, we will redirect your sails so the wind is at your back. Life is meant to be enjoyed.

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