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panic disorder, shyness, social phobia - differences

Panic Disorder, Shyness, Social Anxiety/Phobia

Ruy Miranda
social anxiety disorder diagnosis 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

  Shyness Social Phobia Panic Disorder
Main symptoms Inhibition Intense fear Impression of faintness, stroke, heart attack, imminent death
Occurrence of panic No Can happen Yes
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 No Yes No
Happens in one or more situations Yes Yes 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
Periodicity 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 >40% ±8% <2%
Cause / Probable Origin Psychological Psychological and/or Chemical Chemical
Treatment Psychotherapy Psychotherapy and/or Medication Medication
Response to the use of medication Minimum Could be good Good
Prognosis with the treatment Good Good Good
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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This web site, the Social Anxiety Disorder and Shyness Directory and these articles contained on this web site are not solicitations, are not medical advice and are not intended as medical advice. This web site, the Social Anxiety Disorder and Shyness Directory and these articles are intended to provide only general, non-specific medical information and are not intended to cover all the issues related to the topics discussed. This web site, the Social Anxiety Disorder and Shyness Directory and these articles do not create any physician-client relationship between Ruy Miranda and you, and they do not replace the eventual relationship between you and your physician, psychologist, or other healthcare professional. This article�s author recommends no particular medication and does not represent the interests of any person, company or pharmaceutical laboratory.

social anxiety disorder


You may want to read other articles on Social Anxiety Disorder / Social Phobia and Shyness:

Basic Articles:

Self-Concept/Self- Actualization – Shyness Nucleus

Self-concept, Body Image, Self-depreciation and Shyness

Shyness and Social Anxiety Disorder: Neurophysiological Approach

Shyness Articles:

What Is Shyness? Fear, Anxiety, Anguish?

Questions and Answers on Shyness

Humiliation Stories, School Spankings: Examples of Shyness Causes

Social Anxiety Disorder Articles:

Social Anxiety Disorder: What It Is, The Anxiety Attack Symptoms

Social Anxiety Attacks: Incidence, Onset, History, Evolution

Social Phobia / Anxiety Disorder: Treatment

Social Phobia / Anxiety Disorder: Differential Diagnosis

Avoidant Personality Disorder

Medications in Social Phobia: Side Effects - Part 1

Antidepressants Tricyclics: Side Effects - Part 2

Metabolic Pathways Individual Differences and Medications Side Effects - Part 3

Genetic Changes: Medications Side Effects - Part 4

First Line Antidepressants - Side Effects - Part 5

Social Anxiety and Shyness Articles:

Panic Disorder, Shyness, Social Phobia - Differences

Why Self-Help in Shyness and Social Anxiety Disorder / Social Phobia Doesn�t Help You

Shyness and Social Anxiety Disorder:Medication Action

Facial Blushing, Redness of the Face, Ears and Neck

Psychoses, Shyness and Social Phobia

social anxiety disorder

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