GAD v. SAD: The Difference B/W Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is a typical stress response and can be advantageous in some conditions. It can warn us about potential dangers and help us be wary of such situations. Its disorders vary from familiar feelings of anxiety and nervousness and include excessive fear or anxiety. Anxiety disorders impact around 30 percent of adults at one stage in their lives. You can recover from them to lead a healthy life. 

Its classification has witnessed some changes; however, Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) remain to coexist within the same diagnostic group. Both disorders share common traits but have distinct issues. These disorders are often known as social phobia. We will see in this article what are the similarities and disparities between these two disorders and the possible ways to address them. 

Common Traits

Both anxiety disorders are described as unrelenting anxiety that is excessive or disproportionate to serious risk. People with SAD can go through physical symptoms related to their stress. A patient can suffer from both SAD and GAD simultaneously. Experiencing any of these disorders can enhance the probability that an individual can go through depression or other conditions, such as OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder).  

Disparities B/W GAD & SAD

As mentioned before, they can share thought traps – patterns of thought that prevent people from seeing things as they are – but their thought content is different. Thought content refers to a patient’s thinking and involves the presence or absence of delusional or obsessional thinking and harmful ideas.

GAD patients worry about various topics, namely financial problems, health issues, or even everyday stress, which are not intensified. Such individuals also have social worries but their attention tends towards current relationships instead of fear of evaluation. For instance, GAD patients might be uncontrollably anxious about the consequences of a fight with their partner. Similarly, a GAD mother would be overly worried about whether she made the right choice changing her child’s school. 

On the other hand, people with the SAD incline to stress about meeting new people, being seen, and presenting in front of a crowd. SAD patients’ thought content often focuses on negative assessment and rejection. For instance, an individual with SAD might experience difficulty initiating a conversation at the office and might let out something foolish. Such people avoid dating because of anxiety about feeling embarrassed on a date. It is affecting their ability to construct a relationship, fulfill primary requirements, and socialize.   

Moreover, it was tested that patients who were given CBD dose experienced alleviated anxiety levels. It can help people with several psychological conditions. You should check the dose level off CBD oil packaging to not overdose on it; however, that is rarely a chance. 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

  • An individual will go through physical symptoms
  • Be anxious about major and minor life problems
  • Show avoidance behaviors
  • Average onset age: 31

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)

  • A person with SAD can also experience physical symptoms
  • Such people would often stress about socializing with people or performing in front of others
  • Displaying an avoidance behavior
  • Average onset age: 13

The behavioral differences between these disorders are nuanced and experience overlapping emotions and thoughts. Both dysfunctions are classified with an intense degree of avoidance with varied underlying reasons. For instance, a GAD patient would avoid attending a meeting thinking that they have not invested enough effort into their presentation and will take more than the allotted time. In contradiction, a SAD patient would avoid the meeting thinking that others will not like their ideas or notice that they are sweating during the presentation. 

Developmental Problems 

Your social anxiety symptoms could be exacerbated when going through several social transitions like friendship, school, or romantic relationships. In contrast, finances, parenting, and such tasks can increase GAD symptoms. It varies in older people and would relate their behaviors with embarrassment, resulting in avoidance or severely minimize social interactions. It is often classified by the expression of physical symptoms than psychological ones. 

Simultaneous Conditions 

It is also not unusual for GAD patients to meet the criteria of other psychiatric diagnoses. One of the most commonly co-occurring issues is depression. Please note that GAD and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) also usually appear together.    

The cure for SAD and GAD can also overlap and their medications are beneficial for both conditions. You can take advantage of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy as it helps to treat the avoidant behavior.

The End

In this article, we have seen that GAD and SAD both share anxiety symptoms. Both disorders might differ in thought content linked with anxiety and reasons underlying behaviors set off by the condition. Both disorders can majorly lessen your quality of life, and it is essential for patients to seek treatment. Psychotherapy, CBD, and medications are quite influential in alleviating the uncomfortable symptoms and allow individuals to live a healthy life. 

Many remedies can help in addressing these symptoms of anxiety disorders and increase the treatment impact. Stress-management strategies, support groups, and other activities will help you cope up with your conditions. You can take the help of your friends and family along with avoiding caffeine – it worsens the symptoms – to lead an anxiety-free life.


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