Anxiety Disorders and Panic Attacks

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Anxiety Disorders
Presented by David Cairns
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Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) affects over 4 million adult Americans every year, and
is a condition where the person feels extremely worried or anxious on a regular basis.
Exaggerated feelings of worry or anxiety are normal in some situations, but for people
who have generalized anxiety disorder or related conditions, the feelings are out of
proportion with the situation at hand.
People with generalized anxiety disorder are unable to stop worrying about everyday
events and situations, and may become overly concerned with money, work, school,
health or their families. They spend their days in constant worry or anxiety over certain
situations, and they often end up feeling worn out, depressed, sad, and cannot enjoy
relationships or social activities.
There is no known root cause of generalized anxiety disorder, but doctors and researchers
conjecture that there are several factors that contribute to the development of this anxiety
problem. Family history often plays an important role in the development of generalized
anxiety disorder. If a person's parent were constant "worriers", they probably grew up in
an environment where fear and anxiety were part of everyday life.
Environmental factors can also be a cause of anxiety disorders. Stressful events such as
abuse, divorce, moving, changing jobs or losing a loved one can trigger real fear, dread
and anxiety, but this can worsen if it is left unaddressed. The person can get into the habit
of feeling difficult feelings all over again whenever they are stressed, and this can
perpetuate the cycle of anxiety. reports that many people turn to food,
nicotine or caffeine to manage their feelings, but this often makes the situation worse.

Finally, brain chemistry may play a role in the development of generalized anxiety
disorder. People who have anxiety problems typically have abnormal levels of
neurotransmitters in the brain, which can affect the types of messages the brain is
sending or receiving. This means the person may be experiencing a fear response from
only a mildly stressful situation, and will start to link the mildly stressful situation to that
negative experience. In reality, the brain is just sending the wrong type of message to the
body, so the person perceives what is happening to them in the wrong way.
Correcting neurotransmitter imbalances is possible by eating certain foods and
maintaining a healthy lifestyle. In some extreme cases, medication or natural supplements
may also be recommended. It's important to understand that generalized anxiety disorder
is quite common, and more women experience the symptoms and effects of this disorder
than men.
Even though family history and environmental factors may not change, there are several
ways to reduce the effects of GAD and other anxiety disorders. Making healthy food
choices, getting enough rest, maintaining a regular exercise schedule, and controlling
stress in a healthy way can help to reduce feelings of fear, worry and overwhelm on a
regular basis. Lifestyle and behavior modification may be the best option for the millions
of people suffering from daily anxiety problems, and may be necessary when generalized
anxiety disorder symptoms and related anxiety problems are interfering with daily life.
The Emotional Impact of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders affect millions of men and women every year, and most people
experience a combination of emotional and physical symptoms depending on the severity
of their condition. Anxiety disorders range from generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive
compulsive disorder, phobias and social anxiety disorder, but almost all have the same
spectrum of emotional symptoms that have significant effects on the person's well-being
and emotional health.
The primary symptoms associated with all anxiety disorders is excessive, even irrational
fear or worry about a particular situation, place or thing. However, the following emotional
symptoms can also be present, and can occur frequently, or become a part of the person's
1. Anticipating the worst. Most people suffering from an anxiety disorder are always
preparing for the worst, and expect negative things to happen. This can perpetuate a cycle
of negative thinking, and may lead to depression, more anxiety and other problems.
2. Agitation or restlessness. Anxiety disorders often leave the person feeling uneasy or
uncomfortable in certain situations. In some cases, the sufferer may experience constant
restlessness even when trying to relax at home. This is because they have gotten into the
habit of maintaining a heightened sense of awareness, and may have become particularly
sensitive to even the slightest changes in their environment.
3. Feeling jumpy or tense on a regular basis. Most people who have even the mildest
forms of anxiety disorder will feel as though they are always on the edge, or have to "walk
on eggshells." According to the United States National Mental Health Information Center at, anxiety disorders can cause people to become "trapped in a
pattern of repeated thoughts and behaviors such as counting or hand washing" just so
they can reduce their feelings of tension and anxiety.
4. Watching for signs of danger. People who are always on the edge are usually looking for

signs of danger, and may become preoccupied with risky situations or events. Most people
who have anxiety disorders will always be on the lookout for danger, and be very careful
about where they go or what they do.
5. Difficulty concentrating. When most of the day is spent being preoccupied with worry,
anxiety and fear, people with anxiety disorders can find it very difficult to stay focused and
concentrate. They may have difficulty sitting in one place for long periods of time to
perform tasks at a job, complete schoolwork, or finish a project. Symptoms may be
recognized as ADD or ADHD, but in many cases, the root cause is an anxiety disorder.
6. Irritability. Many people suffering from anxiety disorders do not get enough rest or
sleep, and this can make them especially irritable or aggravated throughout the day. They
may become irritated by slight changes in their schedule or routine, and can become
overly sensitive to everyday situations. This can be improved with adequate rest and
stress relief methods, but these habits will take time to develop.
There are several emotional symptoms of anxiety disorders that can adversely affect the
sufferer's life, and the lives of their friends and family. Recognizing these symptoms is the
first step to addressing an anxiety disorder and finding the best course of treatment.
A lot of people suffer from anxiety attacks that can happen when in public or planning a
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Identifying Anxiety Disorders
Most people feel worried or scared when faced with a dangerous or stressful situation, but
some people feel an excessive sense of worry or fear on a daily basis. People who suffer
from anxiety disorders often feel fearful and anxious about the world around them, and
may experience extreme effects of anxiety that turn into an anxiety attack of panic

disorder from everyday situations.
Understanding the root cause of an anxiety problem can take time, but there are several
common characteristics and symptoms that indicate that an anxiety disorder is present,
and may need to be addressed. Identifying anxiety disorder symptoms and effects is the
first step to getting better and finding a suitable treatment plan. Here are some of the key
signs that you or someone you know is suffering from an anxiety disorder:
1. Constantly plagued by irrational fears. Everyone experiences fear in dangerous or
potentially risky situation, but people with anxiety disorders tend to be plagued by
irrational fears that consist of excessive worry or anxiousness over a situation that cannot
be classified as harmful or dangerous.
2. Sensing danger in a safe environment. People with anxiety disorders often feel a
constant sense of fear or danger in their surroundings, even if they have been in a certain
place countless times, or the environment has been deemed safe by others. Anxiety
disorder sufferers often have a heightened sense of awareness that can contribute to this
3. Avoidance of certain social activities or situations. Those who are suffering from anxiety
disorders often feel uncomfortable in social situations where they may be judged or
ridiculed, and will avoid certain activities or social situations altogether. This can make it
very difficult for them to have a healthy social life and sustain meaningful relationships.
4. Belief that something bad will happen if a ritual or routine is broken. Many people with
anxiety disorders are superstitious, or develop behaviors that lead to obsessive
compulsive disorder (OCD). According to, people with anxiety disorder
often hold a "belief that something bad will happen if certain things aren't done a certain
way... [They] may also suffer from compulsions such as washing hands over and over."
5. Feelings of loss of control that trigger an anxiety attack. Many people who suffer from
panic attacks and anxiety attacks have an intense fear of losing control of the situation.
This can trigger a condition known as agoraphobia, where the person is afraid that they
will have an anxiety attack in a public setting, and may be judged or ridiculed as a result.
This cycle can continue to perpetuate itself, leaving the sufferer homebound or socially
withdrawn over time.
6. Sudden, unexpected feelings of panic and overwhelm. Some of the characteristics of a
panic attack are short, frequent episodes of overwhelm, intense fear and an elevated
heart rate. Many people suffering from anxiety disorders experience panic or anxiety
attacks on a regular basis, and these can also interfere with daily life.
Identifying the effects and characteristics of anxiety disorders can help to determine the
most appropriate treatment plan, and even identify a root cause. There are several
medical and non-medical treatments available for anxiety disorders and symptoms, so
there are ways to overcome anxiety-related problems that may be affecting emotional
health and well-being.
The Tell-tale Signs of Anxiety Disorders
Panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, agoraphobia and social anxiety disorder are
just some of the different types of anxiety disorders that affect millions of adult Americans
every year. Anxiety problems are more common in women than in men, and are identified
by extreme feelings of panic, worry, or a preoccupation with negative events that could

occur in the person's life.
According to, an anxiety disorder "is a serious mental illness. For people with
anxiety disorders, worry and fear are constant and overwhelming, and can be crippling."
Recognizing the different types of anxiety disorder can help the person cope better with
the effect and the situation that may be causing the problem. Here's a close look at the
different types of anxiety disorders:
1. Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). This disorder is associated with obsessive rituals
and behaviors that help the person reduce feeling s of fear or anxiety when they're
performed. The person typically designs their own routine to help reduce a certain type of
fear. For example, someone who fears germs and disease may constantly wash their
hands. Someone who fears that things will be out of control may constantly arrange and
rearrange furniture or objects in the home.
2. Social anxiety disorder. This anxiety disorder is also known as a social phobia, and
involves extreme self-consciousness or worry about what other people are thinking about
the person. The person suffering from this type of anxiety disorder usually fears being
judged, ridiculed or shamed by others, so they avoid social situations altogether.
3. Generalized anxiety disorder. This type of anxiety disorder is the most common among
adult men and women in the United States, and consists of constant worry, angst or
tension about situations that may not be in proportion with the actual circumstance or
event. This can turn into a problem when it interferes with relationships, work or the
person's emotional health.
Ways to Recognize Unhealthy Panic Disorders
Panic disorder is one of several anxiety disorders that involve an intense, abrupt and
oftentimes debilitating period of discomfort and fear. Panic disorders affect millions of men
and women of all ages, and can be triggered by several situations or circumstances, real
or imagined.
Gerald Klerman of the World Psychiatric Association and author of the book, "Panic Anxiety
and Its Treatments" points out that there are several DSM-III-R diagnostic criteria that
must be fulfilled in order to classify someone as having panic disorder.
First, one or more of the panic attacks must have occurred when the person was exposed
to a situation that doesn't typically cause anxiety. This could be anything from going to the
grocery store, watching a movie they've already seen, or washing the dishes. The panic
attack must also not be triggered by a situation where the person was the center of
attention, such as a public speaking event, a birthday party, or other situation where they
were the focus of a crowd.
Secondly, four attacks must have occurred within a four-week period, or the person must
have experienced persistent fear after having an attack. Symptoms of fear after a panic
attack may include difficulty sleeping, extreme paranoia and restlessness.
Third, during a panic attack the person must also have experienced at least four of the
following symptoms: trembling or shaking; sweating; shortness of breath; dizziness;
depersonalization; numbness or tingling; hot flashes; fear of dying; chest pain or
discomfort; accelerated heart rate; nausea; choking; and fear of going crazy.
Fourth, the person must have experienced at least four of the symptoms in increased
intensity within 10 minutes of the beginning of the first symptom they noticed they were

having during the panic attack. In many cases, this means the person was feeling very out
of control, unbalanced, and even confused.
Finally, the possibility that the attack was triggered by caffeine, amphetamines or hyper-
thyroidism must be ruled out. Many people experience the symptoms of panic disorder
because they have become dependent on over-the-counter stimulants, or have an
unaddressed medical condition. If the person is taking supplements or stimulants, they
may not fulfill the criteria for panic disorder by a psychiatrist.
Panic disorder is just one of several anxiety disorders that affect millions of people every
year. Panic disorder can become a problem in someone's life if it interferes with social
relationships, or limits the person's ability to work or live a fulfilling life. If you or someone
you know is suffering from panic disorder, there are several treatment options available.
Nobody has to suffer from the effects of extreme anxiety and panic attacks for the rest of
their lives.
Panic disorder treatments may require medical intervention only in extreme cases; most
people can make changes to their lifestyle, ensure they are eating a well-balanced diet
and getting enough sleep, and learning healthy ways to cope with stress. Some people
may also benefit from taking natural supplements that reduce anxiety and help to alleviate
some of the symptoms of a panic attack.
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