WARNING: Anxiety and Panic Outbreaks on the Rise
Background Info Anxiety and Panic Attacks
It has been estimated that 40 million Americans regularly suffer from troubling levels of anxiety. All of us have felt anxiety or panic. These feelings are products of emotions. Feelings are survival tools that notify us about dangers, or that life is good. Anxiety or panic is an alert telling us something dangerous is afoot. Anxiety is like a tornado warning. It sets off alarms and prepares us to take proactive action to protect ourselves. At least, that is what it was designed to do. But sometimes, we have lived through a catastrophe, tragedy, an abusive situation or a bad circumstance that has put our brain on high alert (Brain is on Code Red). Therefore, our anxiety is easily triggered by small events or non-threatening situations that cause troubling levels of anxiety or a panic attack. I once heard a story about someone who was hit from behind in a car accident. Later, she had a terrible panic attack when she was at a movie theater. Once she reviewed the events bit by bit before her attack, this woman realized she had been bumped from behind as someone made their way down the aisle. This triggered the memory of the accident in her brain and sent her into panic mode, even though she was in no danger.
Review of types of Anxiety Disorders
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – this disorder consists of two aspects – intrusive thoughts (obsessions) (same phrases keep repeating in your mind; often combined with repetitive behaviors (compulsions) like excessive hand washing, turning on and off light switches, must close and open something, always count, or constant checking.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) comes after a severe traumatic event where the person was in terrible danger or perceived their life was threatened.
- Social Anxiety Disorder describes the condition of people who feel overwhelming anxiety when confronted with regular social interactions.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder is often used as a catchall category for chronic anxiety or exaggerated worry without an obvious cause.
- Panic Disorder is a sudden onset of intense fearfulness, apprehension or terror, often associated with feelings of impending doom. These attacks are accompanied by physical symptoms like shortness of breath, palpations, chest pain, smothering sensations, or thoughts of “going crazy” and loss of control.
Anxiety, fear or panic are normal responses to harmful, uncomfortable, or dangerous life events. But these disorders become disabling when it happens when we are not in danger. Our normal, emotional responses have taken on unhealthy proportions. Apprehensive Feelings like anxiety, fear and panic were originally designed to be a part of our survival fight or flight responses. They were meant to prepare us to fight or flee from possible harm. It takes an unhealthy turn when there is no real basis of a threat but instead a misinterpretation by the brain of immediate danger that is not there. Like the malfunctioning of a car alarm that is sounding the warning but no one is attempting to break in. Just like that mechanical failure where the driver is unable to turn off the alarm, the person suffering from Anxiety disorders cannot easily prevent their reactions.
To learn more, look forward to my next blogs on Anxiety and Panic that will be posted to www.supportivetalk.com.
If you would like some suggestions for books, try “Natural Relief for Anxiety” by Edmund J. Bourne, Arlen Brownstein, and Lorna Garano or “The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook” by Martha Davis, Matthew McKay and Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman. Books that bring peace of mind to this author are “Zen and the Art of Happiness” by Chris Prentiss, “”Listening to Your Inner Voice” by Douglas Bloch and “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young.
Some helpful articles from this author are “Empower Yourself to Move Forward in Life… Starting Today” and Personality Strengths: Gain self-knowledge by learning your Unique Gifts by Vicki Langemo, LPC, MA
Otherwise, you can book a conversation with Vicki at www.supportivetalk.com