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What is Anxiety and Panic?

In some ways, and for many people, anxiety is a natural response to stress.  Experiencing some amount of anxiety, occasionally, is a normal part of life.

However, people with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations – resulting in a significant disruption of their quality of life. Symptoms can also be very physical and include heart palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, and even physical pain.

A type of anxiety disorder involving episodes of intense anxiety, fear, and terror is generally characterized as panic, and the episodes are known as “panic attacks”.  There are other types of anxiety disorders, and it is possible for an individual to have more than one.

Common Anxiety Disorders

  • Panic Disorder: A panic disorder occurs when one experiences feelings and even physical symptoms of extreme terror and stress even when there is no real danger.
  • Phobias: A phobia is an extreme and disruptive fear of something specific i.e. height, water, spiders.
  • Social anxiety disorder: Fear of social situations, and being judged by others.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: (OCD, for short) involves one doing certain actions certain ways which are governed by specific irrational thoughts. One may feel uncomfortable if things are not done a certain way.
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder: A separation anxiety disorder involves one fearing being separated from a loved one despite the amount of time of separation.
  • Illness Anxiety Disorder: an illness anxiety disorder involves one being anxious about becoming sick (formerly known as hypochondria)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: PTSD, for short, involves a traumatic event causing long lasting stress and anxiety on one’s mental state.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Symptoms of anxiety vary from person to person.  Many people experience anxiety in different forms as shown above with the different disorders.  However, many cases bring similar symptoms such as:

  • increased heart rate
  • rapid breathing
  • restlessness
  • trouble concentrating
  • difficulty falling asleep
  • irritability
  • feelings of isolation
  • feelings of shame
And when an extreme anxiety attack, or panic attack, occurs, symptoms may include:
  •  feeling faint or dizzy
  • shortness of breath
  • dry mouth
  • sweating
  • chills or hot flashes
  • apprehension and worry
  • heightened restlessness
  • distress
  • fear
  • numbness or tingling
  • g.i. discomfort and pain

Causes of Anxiety

The causes of anxiety vary from person to person and can include life events, genetics, and individual brain chemistry.  Some possible causes even include unmanaged stress from work or school, relationship difficulties or the death of a loved one.  In PTSD patients, a traumatic event causes immense stress and anxiety moving forward.  Other times, side-effects of medicines could be to blame as well as the use/abuse of illicit drugs.

Treatments for Anxiety and Panic

Some people might be able to resolve their anxiety through lifestyle changes such as avoiding alcohol, tobacco and caffeine, adding exercise and healthier food choices, ending illicit and “recreational” drug use/abuse, and seeking social support through healthy activities.

Others will need the help of professionals, including professional counseling, and/or treatments involving drug therapies.

It is important to treat anxiety disorder. Your worries may not go away on their own, and they may get worse over time without help. If anxiety is disrupting your quality of life, your ability to work, or your experiences with family and friends, it is better to seek help early.

Diamond Lake Clinic offers a team of experienced professionals who can evaluate your symptoms and experiences and help you find a solution to your anxiety and panic. You deserve to feel a sense of normalcy in your mental health and to have a full, functional life with family, work, school and friends – a life that’s not constantly overshadowed and affected by excessive anxiety.