PART 1: GENERALIZED ANXIETY DISORDER
PART 2: PANIC ATTACKS
PART 1. GENERALIZED ANXIETY DISORDER
Anxiety is an emotion that can signal just the right response to a situation. It can spur you on, for example, to add the finishing touches that elevate an essay, painting, or important work document from good to excellent. But if you have an anxiety disorder, exaggerated anxiety can stop you from functioning, and disrupt your life. Like many other illnesses, anxiety disorders often have an underlying biological cause and frequently run in families.
Anxiety disorders range from feelings of uneasiness, most of the time, to immobilizing bouts of fear or terror.This fact sheet is intended only as a starting point for gaining an understanding of anxiety disorders.
If you believe you or a loved one has an anxiety disorder, seek competent professional advice or other forms of support.
GENERALIZED ANXIETY DISORDER
Most people experience anxiety—that knot in the stomach over a backlog of bills or just before a job interview—at some point in their lives. Such nervousness in anticipation of a real situation is normal. But if a person cannot shake unwarranted worries, fears, or the feelings are jarring to the point of avoiding everyday activities, he or she most likely has an anxiety disorder.
Symptoms: Extreme nervousness, chronic, exaggerated worry, tension, fear, and irritability that appear to have no cause or are more intense than the situation warrants. These psychological symptoms often are accompanied by physical signs such as restlessness, trouble falling or staying asleep, headaches, trembling, twitching, muscle tension, or sweating.
Diagnosis: When someone spends at least 6 months worried excessively about everyday problems. However, incapacitating or troublesome symptoms warranting treatment may exist for shorter periods of time.
Treatment: Anxiety is among the most common, most treatable mental disorders. Effective treatments include cognitive therapy, relaxation techniques, and biofeedback to control muscle tension. Medication, most commonly anti-anxiety drugs, also may be required in some cases.
PART 2. Panic Attacks
The DSM IV describes the symptoms of panic attacks as:
A discrete period of intense fear or discomfort, in which four (or more) of the following symptoms developed abruptly and reached a peak within 10 minutes:
1. palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
3. trembling or shaking
4. sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
5. feeling of choking
6. chest pain or discomfort
7. nausea or abdominal distress
8. feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
9. derealization (feelings of unrealty) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself)
10. fear of losing control or going crazy
11. fear of dying
12. (numbing or tingling sensations
13. chills or hot flushes
If you are experiencing these symptoms, counseling can be very helpful in treating this disorder. Depending on the severity of the symptoms this treatment may also be accompanied by medication prescribed by your family doctor or a psychiatrist. You may also being experiencing these symptoms as part of a medical problem or as part of other psychological diagnoses including PTSD or Anxiety Disorder. A thorough assessment by a licensed professional counselor and a physician will help you to determine the basis of your panic attack symptoms and best course of treatment.
If you have thoughts of suicide or harming yourself or others, immediately call your local emergency number (such as 911) or go to the hospital emergency room.
For appointments call Barbara Reade MS, LCPC 410-916-6017