Panic attacks, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and just plain anxiety. What’s the difference?
Pretend each sits on a scale in terms of degree of difficulty, 1 being the least and 10 being the most difficult. Panic attacks may be perceived as a 10 with anxiety down by a 1.
Let’s put GAD in the middle for the sake of this conversation, although depending upon the symptoms, GAD could very well be closer to a 10. Between the three degrees, each one has its own range.
For example, anxiety for me may be at a 3 but for someone else may be a 1. Granted the experience of anxiety is affected by so many outside factors (situations, past experiences, coping skills, etc.), so it is not something that has a standard measurement.
Anxiety is the body’s natural way of telling you that something is wrong, doesn’t feel right, or prompt someone to take action.
For example, if a family needs to borrow money to pay for rent and groceries, the primary earner may feel anxious about how to make ends meet. This may prompt him or her to get a better or second job.
Again, individuals can experience different levels of each disorder depending upon their experiences, family history, and coping skills. Let’s discuss symptoms and how this “spectrum” can play out.
All people experience some level of anxiety at some point in their life. Symptoms can start out with racing thoughts, feelings of nervousness, sweaty palms, and racing heart.
As anxiety worsens in duration and abundance, an individual may have generalized anxiety disorder. This may impair an individual’s ability to function in everyday life, but there are plenty of treatment options out there.