>> Anxiety Attacks And Disorders
ANXIETY ATTACKS AND DISORDERS
SYMPTOMS, TYPES, & TREATMENT
We all know what it's like to feel anxious. Most of
us experience anxiety when we're faced with stressful
situations or traumatic events. Our heart pounds before
a big presentation or a tough exam. We get butterflies
in our stomach during a blind date. We worry and fret
over family problems or feel jittery at the prospect
of asking the boss for a raise. Anxiety is part of
our natural "fight-or-flight" response.
It's our body's way of warning us of possible danger
However, if anxiety is overwhelming you with fear
and worry, preventing you from living your life the
way you'd like to, you may be suffering from an anxiety
disorder. Fortunately, there are effective treatments
for anxiety attacks and disorders. Therapy, relaxation
techniques, and a balanced, healthy lifestyle can
help you reduce your anxiety and take back control
of your life.
WHAT IS AN ANXIETY DISORDER?
Anxiety disorders can take many forms. You may experience
free-floating anxiety without knowing exactly why
you’re feeling that way. You may suffer from
sudden, intense panic attacks that strike without
warning. Your anxiety may come in the form of extreme
social inhibition or in unwanted obsessions and compulsions.
Or you may have a phobia of an object or situation
that doesn’t seem to bother other people.
Despite their different forms, all anxiety disorders
share one thing in common: persistent—and often
overwhelming—fear or worry. The frequency and
intensity of these fears can be immobilizing, distressing,
and disruptive. Characteristics of an anxiety disorder
- Anxiety which is constant, unrelenting, and
- Anxiety which causes self-imposed isolation
or emotional withdrawal
- Anxiety which interferes with normal activities
like going outside or interacting with other people
The toll an anxiety disorder takes on your life can
lead to other problems as well, such as low self-esteem,
depression, and alcoholism. Anxiety can also negatively
impact your work and your personal relationships.
But the good news is that anxiety disorders are highly
treatable. With the help of a qualified mental health
professional, you can get relief from your worries
and lead the life that you want.
ANXIETY ATTACKS AND PANIC
Anxiety attacks, also called panic attacks, are unexpected
episodes of intense terror or fear. Anxiety attacks
usually come without warning, and although the fear
is generally irrational, the perceived danger is very
real. A person experiencing an anxiety attack will
often feel as if they are about to die or pass out.
SYMPTOMS OF AN ANXIETY ATTACK INCLUDE
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF AN ANXIETY DISORDERS
- Shortness of breath
- Palpitations or pounding heart
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Trembling or shaking
- Nausea or stomach distress
- Fear of losing control or going crazy
- Hot or cold flashes
- Apprehension, uneasiness, and dread
- Impaired concentration or selective
- Feeling restless or on edge
- Behavioral problems (especially in
children and adolescents)
- Nervousness and jumpiness
- Self-consciousness and insecurity
- Fear that you are dying or going crazy
- Strong desire to escape
- Heart palpitations or racing heartbeat
- Chest pain
- Hot flashes or chills
- Cold and clammy hands
- Stomach upset or queasiness
- Frequent urination or diarrhea
- Shortness of breath
- Tremors, twitches, and jitters
- Muscle tension or aches
Because of the many physical symptoms involved in
anxiety disorders, anxiety sufferers often mistakenly
believe they have a medical illness. They may visit
many doctors and make numerous trips to the hospital
before their anxiety disorder is diagnosed. In fact,
according to the Anxiety Disorders Association of
America, people with anxiety disorders are 3-5 times
more likely to go to the doctor than non-sufferers.
Therefore, it is very important to be aware of the
unexpected, physiological forms anxiety can take.
CAUSES AND RISK FACTORS FOR
There are a number of complex factors that contribute
to the development of anxiety disorders. Your environment,
personality, family dynamics, brain chemistry, and
genetics all can play a role. In addition, major life
stressors such as financial difficulties, marital
problems, or bereavement often trigger the onset of
an anxiety disorder. It is important to realize that
no single factor causes an anxiety disorder. The various
anxiety risk factors are interrelated and can interact
with and impact one another.
TYPES OF ANXIETY DISORDERS
|INTERRELATED ANXIETY DISORDER
||A person’s environment can play a huge
role in the development of anxiety disorders.
Difficulties such as poverty, early separation
from the mother, family conflict, critical and
strict parents, parents who are fearful and
anxious themselves, and the lack of a strong
support system can all lead to chronic anxiety
||Personality differences can affect whether
or not an anxiety disorder develops. People
with anxiety disorders often view themselves
as powerless and the world as a threatening
place. This pessimistic perspective can lead
to low self-confidence and poor coping skills.
||Some studies suggest that an imbalance of
neurotransmitters such as serotonin, GABA, and
epinephrine may contribute to anxiety disorders.
Abnormalities in the stress hormone cortisol
have also been found. Many medications prescribed
for anxiety disorders aim to readjust the brain’s
||Anxiety disorders tend to run in families.
People with anxiety disorders often have a family
history of anxiety disorders, mood disorders,
or substance abuse. Although this is often due
to the home environment, researchers also believe
that there are genetic factors which represent
an inherited risk for anxiety disorders. One
risk factor may be a biological vulnerability
||An anxiety disorder may develop in response
to a traumatic event, such as a car accident
or a marital separation. Anxiety may also have
its roots in early life abuse or developmental
trauma. Trauma in infancy and early childhood
can be particularly damaging, leaving a pervasive
and lasting sense of helplessness that can develop
into anxiety or depression in later life. For
more information, see Helpguide’s Emotional
and Psychological Trauma: Causes, Symptoms,
Effects, and Treatments @ www.helpguide.com
There are several major types of anxiety disorders,
each with its own distinct profile and set of symptoms.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
If constant worries and fears distract you from your
day-to-day activities or you’re troubled by
a persistent feeling that something bad is going to
happen, you may be suffering from GAD. People with
GAD feel anxious nearly all of the time, though they
may not even know why. Anxiety related to GAD often
manifests itself in physical symptoms like headaches,
stomach upset, and fatigue.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
– OCD is characterized by unwanted thoughts
or behaviors that seem impossible to stop or control.
You may be troubled by obsessions, such as a recurring
worry that you forgot to turn off the oven or that
you might hurt someone. You may also suffer from uncontrollable
compulsions, such as washing your hands over and over.
Panic Attacks and Panic Disorder
– Panic disorder is characterized by repeated,
unexpected panic attacks. These panic attacks strike
without warning and usually last a terrifying 15 to
30 minutes. Panic disorder may also be accompanied
by agoraphobia, which is a fear of being in places
where escape or help would be difficult in the event
of a panic attack. If you have agoraphobia, you are
likely to avoid public places such as shopping malls
or confined spaces such as an airplane.
– A phobia is an unrealistic
or exaggerated fear of a specific object, activity,
or situation that in reality presents little to no
danger. Common phobias include fear of animals such
as snakes and spiders, fear of flying, and fear of
heights. In the case of a severe phobia, you might
go to extreme lengths to avoid the thing you fear.
anxiety is a normal part of child development. It
consists of crying and distress when a child is separated
from a parent or away from home. If separation anxiety
persists beyond a certain age or interferes with daily
activities, it may be a sign of separation anxiety
Social Anxiety / Social Phobia
If you have a debilitating fear of being seen negatively
by others and humiliated in public, you may have social
anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia. Social
anxiety disorder can be thought of as extreme shyness.
In severe cases, social situations are avoided altogether.
Performance anxiety (better known as stage fright)
is the most common type of social phobia.
Melinda Smith created this article with contributions
from Gina Kemp, M.A., Heather Larson, Jaelline Jaffe,
Ph.D., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. Last modified on 12/13/07.
Reprinted with permission from http://www.helpguide.org/.
C 2008 Helpguide.org. All rights reserved.
You can find the original article at
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