Anxiety - Fear - Panic Disorders

Anxiety has been defined as a feeling of fear, dread, or apprehension that arises without a clear or appropriate real-life justification.

Some authorities differentiate anxiety from true fear in that the latter is experienced in response to an actual threat or danger, such as those to one's physical safety.

Anxiety, on the other hand, may arise in response to apparently innocuous situations or may be out of proportion to the actual degree of the external stress. Anxiety also frequently arises as a result of subjective emotional conflicts of whose nature the person himself may be unaware.

Generally, intense, persistent, or chronic anxiety that is not justified in response to real-life stresses and that interferes with the individual's functioning is regarded as a manifestation of mental disorder.

Anxiety is a symptom in many mental disorders, including schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorders, posttraumatic stress disorders, and so on, but in phobias and other anxiety disorders proper, anxiety is the primary and frequently the only symptom.

The symptoms of anxiety are physical, psychological, and behavioral.

Anxiety, especially during panic attacks, can manifest itself in a distinctive set of physical signs that arise from overactivity of the sympathetic nervous system or from tension in skeletal muscles.

The sufferer experiences palpitations, dry mouth, dilatation of the pupils, shortness of breath, sweating, abdominal symptoms, tightness in the throat, trembling, and dizziness.

Aside from the actual feelings of dread and apprehension, the psychological symptoms include irritability, difficulty with concentration, and restlessness.

Anxiety may also be manifested in avoidance behaviour--running away from the feared object or situation.

Anxiety disorders in which the anxiety is not aroused by any specific object or situation can basically be subsumed under the headings of panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.

Panic attacks are characterized by the sudden onset of intense or overwhelming anxiety accompanied by any of the aforementioned physical signs, such as difficulty in breathing, sweating, palpitations, and so on.

The fear and apprehension experienced in such attacks sometimes mount to what are known as feelings of doom.

Clear precipitating circumstances may produce the initial feelings of intense anxiety.

The panic attack may last for about a quarter of an hour and frequently recurs, either infrequently or several times a week.

The disorder usually starts in young adults and may persist for many years.

A diffuse and persistent feeling of anxiety associated with no particular object or situation is termed general, or free-floating, anxiety and is classified by the DSM-III as generalized anxiety disorder.

General anxiety is usually milder and less intense than in panic attacks, but it is longer lasting and may persist for several months or years, or on a recurrent basis.

The most effective treatments vary according to the type of disorder and the individual patient.

Psychotherapy and antianxiety drugs are often useful in treating generalized anxiety and panic attacks.


Panic Disorders

  • Fear Linked To Specific Region Within The Genome May 2002 - Uni-Sci Ezine

    August 24, 1999 - BBC Online

    One of the main problems people will suffer with at this time of frequency change is 'Panic Disorders'. Click Here for the Anxiety Disorders Education Program.

    The Anxiety Disorders Education Program is a national education campaign developed by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to increase awareness among the public and health care professionals that anxiety disorders are real medical illnesses that can be effectively diagnosed and treated.

    More than 19 million Americans suffer from anxiety disorders, which include panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias and generalized anxiety disorder. They suffer from symptoms that are chronic, unremitting and usually grow progressively worse if left untreated.

    Tormented by panic attacks, irrational thoughts and fears, compulsive behaviors or rituals, flashbacks, nightmares, or countless frightening physical symptoms, people with anxiety disorders are heavy utilizers of emergency rooms and other medical services.

    Their work, family and social lives are disrupted, and some even become housebound. Many of them have co-occuring disorders such as depression, alcohol or drug abuse, or other mental disorders.

    Because of widespread lack of understanding and the stigma associated with these disorders, many people with anxiety disorders are not diagnosed and are not receiving treatments that have been proven effective through research.

    Finding My Way Back From Fear

    By Linda Ference Benedetto

    Finding My Way Back From Fear is not just another book about Anxiety and Panic Disorder. It is a handbook and a personal account of how I was able to get my life back. It is a true account of my journey to recovery. Anxiety and panic disorder affects more than 30 million people in the United States alone. What this book offers is a short, informative, inspirational book that the reader can finish in an afternoon and walk away from it feeling empowered by its words. Many of the other books on the market today are written by physicians about their patients. These books are clinical in nature and do not reach out on a personal level.

    I take my reader on a personal journey. A tough journey but a journey of promise and hope as the reader can identify with my thoughts and fears as I describe each step I took toward recovery. I give direction and encouragement to those who suffer from the same fears that I once did.

    Since the book was first published I have had countless letters and phone calls from people who have said that they were able to identify with every word and it has changed their life.

    "Just to know that someone else felt this way and had these fears was a comfort" wrote DM one of the first readers.

    "I walked away from it feeling empowered by its words" wrote CB "I can do this".

    "I am not afraid anymore" - Linda Ference Benedetto

    Fear fighter 'extinguishes anxiety'

    September 14, 1999 - BBC Online

    The device has been licensed in the US for some time

    A Walkman-like device that could defeat fear by passing electricity through the brain and re-tuning cells is going on sale in the UK.

    The compact machine could help people who suffer severe stress and anxiety over things such as exams, interviews or flying.

    The manufacturers say it can also help people suffering from insomnia or depression.

    Trials have so far shown that it produces at least a 25% improvement in up to 80% to 90% of patients with such conditions. Psychological baggage

    The Alpha-Stim is based on a prototype built by American neurobiologist Dr Daniel Kirsch 17 years ago.

    The modern version is more compact than the original

    However, while Dr Kirsch's device was the size of a suitcase, its modern-day counterpart can fit in the palm of the hand.

    It is described as a "cranial electrotherapy stimulator", and comes in a slim blue and white plastic container. Two electrodes clip on to the earlobes.

    Once switched on, it passes a current through the brain for 20 minutes to an hour, depending on the setting. After continued use it can be switched on for shorter periods.

    The Alpha-Stim is licensed by the Food and Drug Administration in the US as a medical treatment.

    'Fashion accessory'

    Nick O'Hare is managing director of the London-based medical equipment company Osbon Medical, which will distribute the Alpha-Stim in the UK.

    "At first glance it looks just like a personal stereo," he said. "You can slip it in your handbag or clip it on to a belt. It's not necessarily meant for people with extreme problems, although it will help them too.

    "It's for anybody or everybody who wants to feel less of a stress victim. "You can put it on at breakfast every day before going to work, or whenever you need it. The effect is hard to describe - you feel sort of lightheaded and 'cleaner'. It gives you clarity and makes your thoughts more organised."

    He said he used the Alpha-Stim to overcome claustrophobic panic attacks on the London Underground, while his wife uses it to overcome her fear of flying.