Panic Disorder, Shyness, Social Anxiety/Phobia
Social Anxiety Shyness Info
Panic Disorder, a medical condition, is also known as Panic Syndrome. This condition was first described a little over twenty years ago and, by reason of misinformation on the part of laypeople, physicians, and related professionals, it has been used to describe a variety of clinical conditions that are quite different from the one originally described and from that which is found listed in the International Classification of Diseases.
It is common for a person who presents Shyness or Social Phobia to be diagnosed with Panic Syndrome. At other times , the label is applied to people who experience strong anxiety in various situations and even in cases of mild anxiety. I hope to shed a little more light on this subject and clarify these uncertainties. It will be, however, a brief review as this site was not set up to deal with this particular disorder.
I think the best way to do this is to present a descriptive ‘snap-shot’ of the three conditions – Shyness, Social Phobia, and Panic Disorder. I should also make it clear that the term Panic Syndrome is synonymous with Panic Disorder and that this condition has nothing whatsoever to do with Shyness, Social Phobia, and Anxiety.
Basic Differences Between Panic Disorder, Shyness and Social Phobia/Anxiety
| Social Phobia
| Main symptoms
| Intense fear
| Impression of faintness, stroke, heart attack, imminent death
|Occurrence of panic
| Can happen
| Situation in which each one occurs
| Contact with people
| Contact with people. It can also occur when contact is expected.
| Does not depend on situations
| Attitude with regard to symptoms
| Tolerance and expectation of getting better
| Need to leave the scene with urgency
| Doing something to avoid fainting, stroke, heart attack, death
| Desire to run away from the situation
| Happens in one or more situations
| Does not depend on situations or presence of other people
| Prior fantasies related to the situations or crises
| Being extroverted
| Fear that one will feel the symptoms
| Apprehension, tension, uncertainty
|Depends on the frequency of contacts
|Depends on the frequency of contacts
| Unpredictable (months can pass between crises)
| Duration of suffering
| While contact lasts
| While contact lasts. It can also occur whan contact is expected.
| Around half an hour
| Incidence in the population
| Cause / Probable Origin
|Psychological and/or Chemical
|Psychotherapy and/or Medication
| Response to the use of medication
| Could be good
|Prognosis with the treatment
| Adaptive behavior
| Insist on maintaining contact
| Reduce contacts to the minimum
|Tendency to avoid places where one had a crisis
This description clearly reveals many differences between this disorder, Shyness, and Social Phobia. It is interesting to note that panic can also occur in Social Anxiety/ Social Phobia Disorder and, besides, any individual confronting a real threat to life, a real danger, is going to feel panic. It is also worth noting that people who present Panic Disorder tend to avoid places as a result of the association between the crises and the places where the crises have occurred. They do not avoid contact with people. This way, it is clear that the use of the Panic Syndrome expressions in our daily discourse is wholly inappropriate.
Updated December, 2005.
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