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Friday, April 20, 2012

Anxiety Disorders

Between 20 and 30 million Americans suffer from panic and anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders, persistent feelings of threat and anxiety in coping with everyday problems of living, are characterized by fatigue, back pains, headaches, feelings of unreality, the sensation of weakness in the legs, and fear of losing control. Generalized anxiety disorders last for more than six months and typically result in unrealistic and excessive worry about two or more personal problems. Three major types of anxiety disorders are phobias, panic attacks, and posttraumatic stress disorder.
A phobia is a deep and persistent fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that results in a compelling desire to avoid the source of the fear. Experts estimate that one out of eight American adults suffer from phobias. Phobias are also thought more prevalent in women than in men.
Simple phobias, such as fear of animals (spiders and snakes, for example), fear of flying, and fear of heights, can be treated successfully through behavioral therapy. Social phobias, fears that are related to interaction with others, such as a fear of public speaking, fear of inadequate sexual performance, and fear of eating in public areas, are not as easily treated. They require more extensive therapy.
A phobic's typical reaction is one of intense anxiety, with symptoms such as sweating and dizziness. Researchers believe that these reactions are triggered by certain memories. For example, a person may develop Agoraphobia, the fear of crowded public places, as a result of a negative experience that involves or took place in a crowded room. Thereafter, the Agoraphobic suffers anxiety in any credit situation.
A panic attack is the sudden, rapid onset of disabling terror. It symptoms include shortness of breath, dizziness, sweating, shaking, choking, trembling, and heart palpitations. A victim of a panic attack may feel that he or she is having a heart attack.
Panic attacks occur spontaneously and have no obvious link to the environmental stimuli. This factor distinguishes them from the natural fear reaction that occurs when we feel threatened by real danger. Researchers believe that panic attacks are caused by some psychological change or biochemical imbalance in the brain and are still searching for the mechanisms that trigger such attacks.
One newly recognized anxiety disorder is posttraumatic stress disorder. This syndrome afflicts victims of severely stressful situations such as rape, assault, war, or airplane crashes. Victims suffer terrifying flashbacks in which they relive the traumatic situation.

Neal Houston, PhD

When correctly diagnosed, anxiety disorders are treatable, usually through a, nation of methods. Because undiagnosed diabetes, heart conditions, and endocrine disorders can mimic anxiety disorders, doctors recommend a arrow physical examination to rule out or organic causes. If it is established that the causes are not physical, treatment usually consists of psychotherapy combined with some type of medication.

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