Anxiety and Panic Attacks

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a mental disorder in which people feel a prolonged sense of fear, dread, or doom. Anxiety is more of a chronic condition compared to panic attacks, which can happen randomly, even in sleep. There are many different types of anxiety disorders including: Panic Attacks, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Social Anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Phobias, and Separation Anxiety. Public speaking and performing can often cause people to have a little bit of anxiety called stage fright. This is totally normal, but when people are afraid of interactions with others like even talking on the phone, that is social anxiety and is not normal. We are going to be focusing on GAD and Panic Attacks.

Body System and How it is Affected

Anxiety is a disorder of the brain, which is part of the nervous system. The brain overreacts to a situation, thought, series of events or even a person. With Generalized Anxiety Disorder (or GAD) people experience a lack of quality sleep, irritability, muscle tension and or having difficulty concentrating. Panic attacks are far more common and can stem from the subconscious, having an irrational reaction. Much like an allergy, where the immune system freaks out on a non-existent threat, the brain will cause the body to overreact.

Where it Comes From

Anxiety can be caused by many things, from brain structure to genetics. Around half of people with panic disorder have their disorder related to genetics and genetics influences around 40% of people with generalized anxiety .
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Onset and Target Population

GAD is the most likely to arise during childhood and middle age. OCD, Phobias and Separation Anxiety arise in early childhood whereas Panic Disorder and Social Phobias occur more in the “teen years”. GAD affects about 40 million people; 18% of Americans in an average year, and about 5% of all Americans in their lifetime. Women are twice as likely to develop an anxiety disorder compared to men. This information is demonstrated in the infographic above.

Signs and Syptoms

The symptoms of GAD and Panic Attacks are fairly similar.

Symptoms include:


  • Sweaty palms
  • Uncontrollable shivering
  • Feeling trapped or feeling an imminent doom
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • A choking feeling
  • Pounding heart
  • “Intense mental discomfort”
  • Muscle tension

Diagnosis and Treatment

Like may physiological disorders, GAD is harder to diagnose than most physical ailments. However, doctors can use blood or urine tests, physiological tests or even family history to determine if you have a disorder. Doctors often use a variety of techniques to treat GAD including, Psychotherapy, Drugs, Relaxation therapy, Behavior modification, Hypnosis, and Animal Treatment. For some major cases of OCD, doctors may recommend surgery. Some of the drugs that doctors use include the following* - Antidepressants, benzodiazepines, buspirone, and SSIRs . For explanations onto what these medications do, click HERE .

Prognosis

People can live with this condition, however it can severely affect day to day life if left untreated. This disorder often brings on other conditions like depression and suicidal thoughts, just to escape the constant worrying.

Connections

I know that my mom has Anxiety, and I think my sister may have some anxiety. Given the research I have done I think I may have separation anxiety.

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Keep in mind each disability is slightly different from another, and the list is medications for GAD and Panic Disorders.