Panic Attacks And Panic Disorder
Panic disorder is characterized by repeated, unexpected panic attacks, as well as fear of experiencing another episode. Agoraphobia, the fear of being somewhere where escape or help would be difficult in the event of a panic attack, may also accompany a panic disorder. If you have agoraphobia, you are likely to avoid public places such as shopping malls, or confined spaces such as an airplane.
How Are Anxiety Disorders Diagnosed
If you have symptoms of an anxiety disorder, talk to your healthcare provider. Theyll start with a complete medical history and physical examination.
There are no lab tests or scans that can diagnose anxiety disorders. But your provider may run some of these tests to rule out physical conditions that may be causing symptoms.
How Do I Know If My Child Has An Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety-related problems in children share four common features. The anxiety:
- Is typically a fear or fixation that interferes with the ability to enjoy life, get through the day or complete tasks.
- Is puzzling to both the child and parents.
- Does not improve after logical explanations to address the worries.
- Is treatable.
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What Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder is a condition in which your worries overwhelm you to the point where your daily routine seems difficult to carry out, and you have been worrying this way for at least six months. You may feel on edge and have difficulty focusing on tasks. There may be a tendency to fear and expect the worst some call this catastrophic thinking. You may know that your worries are perhaps irrational, but you still go on feeling them.
Causes And Risk Factors Of Anxiety Disorders
Researchers think that various factors may contribute to anxiety. The more risk factors an individual has, the greater the likelihood that theyll develop an anxiety disorder, notes Dr. Chand.
An author of the study, Koraly Perez-Edgar, PhD, a professor of psychology at the Pennsylvania State University in University Park, says that this focus on threat may be one way that anxiety begins to take hold.
Individuals who attend to aspects of the environment that they consider threatening can potentially create a cycle that strengthens biases toward threat, as well as toward the view that the environment is threatening, which can then lead to social withdrawal and anxiety, she says.
People can learn to be anxious in various situations, says Jonathan Abramowitz, PhD, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and the founding editor of the Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders.
This can occur through experiences in which anxiety or fear becomes associated with a specific stimulus or a stressful or traumatic event, by learning about something fearful, and through vicarious conditioning, he says.
Vicarious conditioning, says Dr. Abramowitz, occurs when you watch someone else experience a stressful and traumatic event like food poisoning or being bitten by a dog and come to see certain situations as dangerous.
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Anxiety Disorders: An Overview
In an anxiety-related disorder, your fear or worry does not go away and can get worse over time. It can influence your life to the extent that it can interfere with daily activities like school, work and/or relationships. Fear, stress, and anxiety are “normal feelings and experiences” but they are completely different than suffering from any of the seven diagnosable disorders plus substance-induced anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and trauma- or stressor-related disorders.
Anxiety disorders keep people from sleeping, concentrating, talking to others, or even leaving their home. Anxiety that may need treatment is often irrational, overwhelming, and disproportionate to the situation. It makes sufferers feel as though they have no control over their feelings, and it can involve severe physical symptoms like headaches, nausea, or trembling. It becomes classified as a disorder when normal anxiety becomes irrational and begins to recur and interfere with daily life.
But, as an example, what if someone will not leave their home for extended periods of time because they are afraid of being in a crowd or being reminded of a past traumatic event. That is not a “normal feeling or experience.”
If you think you might be struggling with an anxiety disorder, you’re not alone:
Causes And Risk Factors
- Behavioral Choices
It’s important to note that everyone feels anxiety to some degree regularly throughout their life. Fear and anxiety are helpful emotions that can function to help us notice danger or threats that keep us safe and help us adapt to our environment. Anxiety disorders occur when significant distress impairs your ability to function in important facets of life, such as work, school, or relationships. There are many potential risk factors for anxiety disorders, and most people likely experience multiple different combinations of risk factors, such as neurobiological factors, genetic markers, environmental factors, and life experiences. However, we do not yet fully understand what causes some people to have anxiety disorders.
Genetic risk factors have been documented for all anxiety disorders. Clinical genetic studies indicate that heritability estimates for anxiety disorders range from 30-67%. Many studies, past and present, have focused on identifying specific genetic factors that increase one’s risk for an anxiety disorder. To date, an array of single nucleotide polymorphisms or small variations in genetic code, that confer heightened risk for anxiety have been discovered. For the most part, the variants that have been associated with risk for anxiety are located within genes that are critical for the expression and regulation of neurotransmitter systems or stress hormones.
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Different Types Of Anxiety Attacks: Understanding The Factors
- May 09, 2017
- 6 minute read
Classifying different types of anxiety attacks can be difficult. Anxiety attack is not an official clinical term. You wont find it in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the handbook most mental health professionals reference. There is also the issue of both mental health clients and professionals confusing anxiety attacks and panic attacks.
Anxiety attack is a colloquial term clients created to describe intense or extended periods of anxiety. On a scale of intensity, an anxiety attack is between mild feelings of anxiety and a panic attack. Because of its frequency, many mental health professionals adopted it. To learn more about what an anxiety attack is and dispel any confusion, read our piece on anxiety attacks vs. panic attacks.
Unlike repeated panic attacks, anxiety attacks are not necessarily a sign of a mental health condition. If you are experiencing a lot of stress or going through a rough patch in life, its natural to have intense anxiety that occurs frequently. Experiencing many anxiety attacks without an apparent cause, however, can be a sign of an anxiety disorder.
Despite it not being an official clinical term, there are types of anxiety attacks. Many therapists recognize they are legitimate mental health issues. We decided to classify them based on the factors that determine how people experience an anxiety attack.
Panic Attacks & Panic Disorder
Panic disorder is a debilitating anxiety disorder that is very different from GAD. Panic disorder is not about “panicking.” It’s not about getting very worried because you might lose your job or a lion is about to attack you in the jungle. That type of panic is normal.
Panic disorder is when you experience severe feelings of doom that cause both mental and physical symptoms that can be so intense that some people call an ambulance, worried that something is dangerously wrong with their health.
Panic disorder is characterized by two things:
- Panic attacks.
- Fear of getting panic attacks.
Panic attacks are intense physical and mental sensations that can be triggered by stress, anxiety, or by nothing at all. They often involve mental distress, but are most well-known for their physical symptoms, including:
- Rapid heartbeat .
- Excessive sweating or hot/cold flashes.
- Tingling sensations, numbness, or weakness in the body.
- Depersonalization .
- Trouble breathing or feeling as though you’ve had a deep breath.
- Lightheadedness or dizziness.
- Chest pain or stomach pain.
- Digestive problems and/or discomfort.
Panic attacks may have some or all of the above physical symptoms, and may also involve unusual symptoms as well, like headaches, ear pressure, and more. All of these symptoms feel very real, which is why those that experience panic attacks often seek medical attention for their health.
What Does Anxiety Mean
We all get worried or scared in response to certain situations in our lives. On a clinical level, anxiety refers to the state of extreme worry, fear and panic the majority of your day. Trivial situations or even in the anticipation of situations that have not happened will trigger these feelings in someone with a clinical anxiety disorder.
Anxiety has various causes. Some major causes are:
- Low self-esteem
- Genetics: people with a family history of anxiety disorders are more likely to experience anxiety
- Chemical disorders in brain
- Other mental health issues such as depression, bipolar disorder.
What Are The Most Common Types Of Treatment For Anxiety
Theres no one-size-fits-all approach in treating anxiety, but the most common methods are a combination of medication and psychotherapy .
There are dozens of drugs that can be prescribed to treat anxiety. Since each person responds to medication differently, theres no one drug that works perfectly for everyone. You may have to work a little with a psychiatrist to find the right medication, or the right combination of medicines, thats most beneficial to you. The drugs that are used to treat anxiety over a long period of time are antidepressants, which affect serotonin, norepinephrine, and other neurotransmitters in the brain.
How Does Medication Treat Anxiety Disorders
Medications cant cure an anxiety disorder. But they can improve symptoms and help you function better. Medications for anxiety disorders often include:
- Anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines, may decrease your anxiety, panic and worry. They work quickly, but you can build up a tolerance to them. That makes them less effective over time. Your healthcare provider may prescribe an anti-anxiety medication for the short-term, then taper you off or the provider may add an antidepressant to the mix.
- Antidepressants can also help with anxiety disorders. They tweak how your brain uses certain chemicals to improve mood and reduce stress. Antidepressants may take some time to work, so be patient. If you feel like youre ready to stop taking antidepressants, talk to your provider first.
- Beta-blockers, usually used for high blood pressure, can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of anxiety disorders. They can relieve rapid heartbeat, shaking and trembling.
Your healthcare provider will work with you to find the right medication combination and dosage. Dont change the dose without consulting your provider. Theyll monitor you to make sure the medicines are working without causing negative side effects.
Anxiety Attack Symptoms Include:
- Feeling of losing control or going crazy.
- Heart palpitations or chest pain.
- Feeling like youre going to pass out.
- Trouble breathing or choking sensation.
- Nausea or stomach cramps.
- Feeling detached or unreal.
Its important to seek help if youre starting to avoid certain situations because youre afraid of having a panic attack. The truth is that panic attacks are highly treatable. In fact, many people are panic free within just 5 to 8 treatment sessions.
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How Do I Deal With Anxiety
There are many ways to deal with anxiety and combining a variety of approaches may help. For those with a diagnosed anxiety disorder, a combination of psychotherapy alongside a medication plan can be very effective. For those who experience anxiety from time to time, there are a variety of relaxation techniques to try that may qualm feelings of worry or fear: breathing techniques, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation are just some examples of techniques to try. Finding a distraction, taking part in physical activity, and talking to someone you trust are also all great options for relieving everyday anxiety.
What Is A Panic Disorder
If you have a panic disorder, you get intense, sudden panic attacks. These attacks often feature stronger, more intense feelings than other types of anxiety disorders.
The feelings of terror may start suddenly and unexpectedly or they may come from a trigger, like facing a situation you dread. Panic attacks can resemble heart attacks. If theres any chance youre experiencing a heart attack, go to the emergency room. Its better to err on the side of caution and have a healthcare professional check you.
During a panic attack, you may experience:
- Chest pain.
- Feeling of choking, which can make you think youre having a heart attack or going crazy.
Panic attacks are very upsetting. People with panic disorder often spend a lot of time worrying about the next panic attack. They also try to avoid situations that might trigger an attack.
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Common Types Of Anxiety Disorders: Phobias
Phobias are one of the most common forms of anxiety. While everyone has fears, phobias are categorized by irrationality and avoidance behaviors in individuals. In fact, most people with phobias realize that their anxiety is not rooted in reality, but cannot stop themselves from feeling that fear.
Among the common types of anxiety, phobias are among the most likely to affect an individuals daily life. For example, someone living with a fear of cars may not be able to find reliable transportation to work or to social events. The most common specific phobias include fears of:
- Social events
Whats The Outlook For People With Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders can often go undiagnosed and untreated. Fortunately, treatment can help. The right treatment can help improve your quality of life, relationships and productivity. It can also support your overall well-being.
You dont need to live with constant worry and fear. If you notice symptoms of an anxiety disorder, talk to your healthcare provider. Its best to get diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. Doing so can limit the problems that anxiety disorders can cause. Often, a combination of medications and counseling for anxiety can help you feel your best.
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Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety Can Include:
- Rapid heartbeat resulting in a fear of having a heart attack. Many an anxiety sufferer has landed up in the doctors room for an ECG only to be told that the heart is well and anxiety is the problem.
- Trembling and sweating
- Chest pain and headaches
- Weakness in the limbs and muscle tension
- Some of the less common physical symptoms can include a feeling of choking and being unable to speak, and rashes. Being unable to speak is interesting. For many anxiety sufferers an underlying belief is that they have no right to express their needs or feelings. And so when they try to speak up, the throat closes up, confirming the underlying belief.