Panic and Anxiety Disorder – What Are the Signs?

Ellena Arroyo

Panic and anxiety disorder describes a number of mental conditions in which someone is in a constant state of fear and apprehension for no apparent reason. These unreasonable fears and worries can negatively impact a person’s lifestyle to the point that they become psychologically crippled and the individual can no longer carry on with their normal daily activities.

Anxiety itself is a natural and necessary emotion which everyone experiences at various times throughout their lives. It presents itself whenever we are under duress or we are faced with danger and it disappears when the threat is gone. However, for people suffering from panic and anxiety disorder, the anxiety is never ending and the threat is not real. When a person’s life becomes controlled by their anxieties, it is time they get some help.

Panic and anxiety disorder can be broken down into the following 6 categories:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – Identified as continuous tension and fear that interrupts your daily routine or the incessant feeling that bad things are about to happen.

Panic Disorder – This is when people suffer from recurrent panic attacks and continually fear that they will have others.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – This condition affects people who have suffered through some traumatic event which they can’t get out of their minds.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – These are certain unwelcome behaviors and thoughts that people have which they cannot stop or control.

Social Anxiety Disorder – Extreme self-consciousness and nervousness when in a social situation. These people feel they are constantly being watched and are afraid that they will embarrass themselves in front of others.

Specific Phobias – This is an irrational fear of certain things or situations which do not present any real harm to them.

Although most of these disorders have their own unique set of symptoms, there are general symptoms that are commonplace for all panic and anxiety disorder sufferers. Some of these are:

o Persistent fear of situations that most people wouldn’t be bothered by
o Being tense and on edge
o Always expecting the worst
o Having difficulty concentrating
o Rapid heartbeat
o Difficulty breathing
o Irritability
o Fatigue and insomnia
o Feeling restless
o Headaches and feeling dizzy
o Muscle twitches or tremors

How anxiety disorders develop is not known. Theories suggest they may be the result of environmental (traumas or serious illness), biological (imbalance of certain brain chemicals) or genetic (the disorder may be inherited) factors or some combination of these.

If the anxiety that is experienced is not severe, and is more of an annoyance and is not debilitating, then there are some self-help therapies that can be beneficial. These include deep breathing exercises, cutting back on caffeine levels and alcohol, muscle relaxation, eating a healthy diet, meditation and regular exercise.

Anyone suffering from panic and anxiety disorder symptoms should first visit their doctor for an exam to see if the symptoms are the result of another medical condition. If it is determined that the person has a chronic anxiety disorder, they should seek treatment from a therapist as soon as they can.

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