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What is the main difference between generalized anxiety disorder and phobic disorder?

What is the main difference between generalized anxiety disorder and phobic disorder?

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

The main clinical manifestation of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is persistent worry, characterized by excessive and unrealistic worry and a range of somatic and psychological symptoms, including tremor, muscle pain, fidgeting, insomnia, sweating, abdominal discomfort, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and sensitivity.

Patients usually worry about more than two different life events - such as health, money, or career prospects - for more than three months. In the same environment, people with GAD are more likely to worry and be more stressed than most people, and the anxiety is difficult or impossible to disappear and affects other aspects of the person's ability

People with GAD have memory difficulties because they put too much energy into worrying, which impairs the ability to process other information.

Social phobia

Social phobia , also known as social anxiety disorder  (SAD), is a mental illness by  intense fear or anxiety of any social or public situation.

Patients have a significant and persistent fear of being humiliated or embarrassed by their behavior or nervous performance in front of strangers or in social or performance situations where they may be closely observed by others.

Some patients find it difficult to attend parties, make phone calls, shop in stores, or ask authority figures. This is diagnosed in psychology as social anxiety disorder (SAD), a type of anxiety disorder.

With the publication of DSM-5, social anxiety disorder and generalized anxiety disorders continue to coexist in the same diagnostic categories. Although they share some characteristics, they are still different disorders.

Common Features Both disorders are characterized by excessive or disproportionate persistent anxiety about an actual threat. However, the "threat" is different between them (see differences in thinking below). Social anxiety disorders, like GAD, sometimes present with physical symptoms related to their anxiety, and biased thinking (which in many cases is catastrophic because the worst case scenario is always imagined) is also central to both types of anxiety disorders.

Thinking Differences

Although the two anxiety disorders are similar in the type of thinking they do, the content of their thinking is very different. people with GAD tend to worry about a range of topics, they often worry about major life issues such as health or finances, and they also worry about many minor daily stressors that others do not generally feel as strongly about.

GAD's concerns tend to be broad and not limited to specific situation or environment. Social concerns are not uncommon in GAD, but their focus tends to be about ongoing relationships rather than fear of evaluation. For example, a young person with GAD may be uncontrollably worried about the consequences of a fight with his girlfriend; a mother with GAD may be overly concerned about whether her decision to transfer her child to another school is the "right" choice.

SAD's tend to worry about meeting strangers, about being observed and performing in front of others (e.g., speaking in class or playing an instrument in a band). The symptoms they feel are always related to a specific social situation or performance, and the content of their thinking is usually focused on negative comments and possible rejection. For example, a socially anxious person may have a hard time talking to others at work because he or she is afraid of showing anxiety, of saying something that is thought to be "stupid," or of being ridiculed by co-workers. Single women with social anxiety disorder may avoid dating, fearing they will be humiliated or embarrassed.

Behavioral Differences

The behavioral differences between GAD and social anxiety disorder are very subtle; they share a high degree of avoidance, but for different reasons. For example, if a person is asked to give a speech, if the person has GAD, he may avoid it because of fear, he does not have enough energy to prepare what he will say, and he says he will not finish on time; if the person has social anxiety disorder, he may avoid being noticed, he feels that no one likes his point of view, and if he sweats when he speaks others will notice.

Symptoms of GAD are: worrying about a variety of things from an unfavorable perspective (e.g., work, family, money, health); anticipating the worst and worrying about trivial things; being unable to control one's worry; physical symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, restlessness, muscle tension and sleep difficulties; and behavioral symptoms such as irritability. In contrast, people with SAD, like GAD, worry and anticipate the worst, are unable to control their anxiety and sleep difficulties, but anxiety in SAD is always caused by social situations and specific performances. In addition, you know that your anxiety is irrational and simply out of proportion to the events that trigger it.

Development Differences

The average age of onset of GAD (31 years) is later than that of social anxiety disorder (13 years), and it is also possible that people with GAD seek treatment long after the onset of symptoms.

Stress in adolescence and early adulthood, such as some social transitions everyone goes through (school, friendship, or love), may exacerbate social anxiety symptoms. Adult responsibilities such as financial, parenting, or career decisions can also amplify GAD symptoms. In older adults, the content of worry and related behaviors may change slightly. For example, older adults with social anxiety disorder may experience anxiety and embarrassment regarding changes in appearance or aging (e.g., poor hearing, slowed movement), which can lead to avoidance or minimal participation in social interactions. The most common anxiety disorder in older patients is GAD, and they are more likely to exhibit concerns about physical symptoms. Later in life, people with GAD are more likely to worry uncontrollably about the health of family members or their own well-being.


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