Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) and Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

You may be familiar with the term anxiety. It is a common term, particularly in today's contemporary society, where individuals are faced with the pressure to achieve success in their professional endeavors, advance their careers, maintain a harmonious social life, and fulfill numerous other expectations. In this article, we will delve into the specifics of two disorders: social anxiety disorder (SAD) and general anxiety disorder (GAD). It is important to understand that both of these disorders are not merely mild concerns but rather the point at which your state of worry begins to affect your daily existence. Let’s examine the differences between SAD and GAD and see what possibilities exist to combat these symptoms in order to live a fulfilling life.

How Does Social Anxiety Disorder Differ from Generalised Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a condition characterized by a strong fear of being evaluated by others in social settings. Individuals with this disorder frequently avoid social gatherings, parties, interactions with colleagues, and public speaking engagements, among other instances. This heightened fear and worry can lead to various physical manifestations, including accelerated heart rate, tremors, flushing, and stomach issues. 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)  is a condition characterized by excessive and persistent worry about various aspects of daily life, such as school, health, and relationships. The name itself is self-explanatory, as one with GAD worries about different aspects of life. Bodily symptoms are a concomitant aspect of these disorders, including nausea, gastrointestinal issues, sleep disruptions, fatigue, and tremors.

Differences between SAD and GAD

The fundamental distinction between these two disorders lies in the fact that SAD primarily manifests as an intense fear of public speaking and being evaluated by others in social settings, whereas GAD encompasses a broader range of fears across various domains of life.

The age at which Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) typically begins is during adolescence, specifically in the early to mid-teenage years.  Generalized Anxiety Disorder typically manifests during the late adolescence to early adulthood period, although it can also emerge in middle age or later. Its onset is influenced by a combination of biological, environmental, and psychological factors.

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) and General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) display clear variations in terms of their occurrence and manifestation based on gender. Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), which is characterized by an intense fear of social situations and being observed, tends to have a higher prevalence in women. This phenomenon can be attributed to societal norms that promote women to be more socially and emotionally aware, which may heighten their susceptibility to fears of being judged by others. Men, although they are less commonly diagnosed with  (SAD), may tend to minimize or not fully disclose their symptoms because of societal expectations that discourage the open expression of emotions.

Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder

In contrast, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), characterized by ongoing and excessive concern about different aspects of life, is also more commonly observed in women than men. This discrepancy may be attributed to gender-specific stressors and societal pressures that have a disproportionate impact on women, such as managing multiple roles and encountering gender-based discrimination. Both disorders are typically treated with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a form of psychotherapy that assists individuals in altering negative cognitive patterns and acquiring effective coping strategies.

Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

How to Manage SAD & GAD

To effectively manage Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is key, focusing on altering negative thoughts and behaviors towards social situations. Mindfulness and relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, help reduce anxiety symptoms. Social skills training, involving role-playing and conversation practice, boosts confidence in social interactions. Additionally, lifestyle changes like regular exercise, a healthy diet, and adequate sleep contribute significantly to reducing anxiety. Incorporating self-help methods, such as reading and using anxiety management apps, can also be beneficial in managing SAD.

Both Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) require a similar therapeutic approach, with Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) playing a key role. CBT assists in changing negative thought patterns and behaviors, but its focus varies slightly depending on the disorder.
CBT for SAD specifically targets fears and anxieties associated with social situations, and is supplemented by social skills training such as role-playing and conversation practice. Mindfulness and relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, are critical in reducing anxiety symptoms, as are lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, a healthy diet, and adequate sleep. 

While CBT for GAD also addresses negative thoughts, it focuses on persistent worries and fears that are not limited to social contexts. Meditation and other mindfulness techniques are also used to treat anxiety symptoms. Changes in lifestyle are critical, with an emphasis on stress management through effective time management and task prioritization.

In our app "charisme," there are several chapters that offer assistance to individuals who encounter difficulties in establishing connections, meeting new people, and attending events. One of our chapters focuses specifically on the art of small talk.  In this chapter, you can acquire knowledge and engage in activities that will help you to converse and connect with people in a more relaxed manner. Other recommended chapters available in the charisme app for social anxiety include strategies for managing anxiety or more specifically “how to deal with anxiety”. These resources offer a selection of relaxation techniques and strategies that can effectively combat anxiety in situations such as delivering a presentation or engaging in a stressful conversation with your employer.   

Small Talk chapter in the charisme app

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