Anxiety & Panic Disorder

Are you feeling anxious this morning? Why or why not? What exactly is anxiety?

Anxiety and stress are a normal phenomenon and is required to propel us to drive us towards our goals. This “propelled energy” is often characterized by fear of failure or perception of not being able to cope with everyday life stressors. This fear prime our bodies with hormones, sending an instant state of red alert/fight or flight message to our bodily functions to function, in an attempt to successfully deal with the challenge at hand.

Stressors/challenges include:

  1. Death of a partner
  2. Divorce /separation
  3. Injury/illness
  4. Getting married
  5. Breaking up with a boy/girlfriend
  6. Retirement
  7. Changing of school
  8. Being bullied at school
  9. Schoolwork

People who suffer from anxiety share two things in common: They overestimate the danger inherent to situations and underestimate their ability to cope with or handle the situation. They live under the shadow of constant threat – real or imagined, resulting in all sorts of consequences, both psychologically and physically.

Symptoms of anxiety depend on the type of anxiety disorder, but usually  include some of the following:

*Feeling of fear/panic/uneasiness *sweating *heart palpitations *not being able to be still and calm *dry mouth *problem sleeping * trembling *dizziness *hot or cold flushes.

IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BEING ANXIOUS AND SUFFERING FROM ANXIETY?

As have been said, being anxious during difficult and challenging times is normal and even necessary for us to achieve our goals.

“When we, however, suffer from anxiety, we perceive our available resources to be insufficient to meet the demands of our circumstances”

Anxiety becomes a disorder when the symptoms become so severe that it starts to have a significant negative impact on our marital-, social- or occupational functioning).

It is being estimated that 1 in every 10 people will at one stage of their life suffer from an anxiety disorder, and is there for one of the most common conditions seen in our practices.

TYPES OF ANXIETY DISORDERS

According to the DSM- IV, there are eleven distinguishable anxiety disorders.

I have combined them into five main groups namely:

WHAT IS A PANIC ATTACK AND HOW DO WE RECOGNISE ONE?

A panic attack is a period of intense fear or discomfort in which 4 or more of the following symptoms are present within a 10 minutes period.

HOW TO CONTROL ANXIETY IF WE FEEL IT COMING ON?

  • Often people go to ER in fear of having a heart attack – always a safe option if there are heart problems in the family. If anxiety.... and it happens again...
  • First thing- get to a safe position (Eg. stop the car)
  • Stop, think and then react.
  • Focus on your breathing.
  • If necessary use a tranquilizer.
  • Visit a psychologist who can help you work through possible traumatic events that have triggered the attack/s, and to help you with techniques to debrief future attacks.