Panic Disorder- Part II
Part I began a discussion of anxiety disorders that included panic disorder and agoraphobia.
Panic disorder is a sudden wave of terror that can strike anywhere and anytime. Agoraphobics may become so severely incapacitated by their fears that they become housebound.
Unfortunately many victims of these problems fail to seek help because they are embarrassed to admit their difficulties. They see these problems as signs of weakness and often have little success in finding someone to sympathize with them or understand their problems.
In both disorders, the individual often begins to anticipate the problem even if they are not already feeling nervous, anxious, panicky or fearful. It then becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy and the “fear of the fear” becomes part of the problem.
Such difficulties may lead to the labeling of people with these disorders as eccentric, unsociable or even peculiar, which often causes them to retreat even further into their illness. Left untreated the problem can lead to complete social isolation.
Anxiety attacks frequently occur during periods of high stress such as periods of great change, financial problems, death or divorce. Many individuals with anxiety disorders are often worriers, perfectionists or those who crave a lot of attention and have strong need for approval.
There is growing evidence that certain types of anxiety disorders may have biological roots and may tend to occur more frequently in families, being passed from one generation to the next. This tendency, although not proven, has been reported by some researchers in other psychological illnesses and problems including some forms of depression, bipolar illness and obsessive-compulsive disorders.
Treatment is available and effective for anxiety conditions. Mental health care professionals have made dramatic advances during the past several years in treating these problems with medication, counseling, or often a combination of the two.
The following suggestions might assist those suffering from anxiety disorders:
• Limit caffeine consumption and when possible, avoid situations dealing with a lot of stress.
• Avoid skipping meals, stick to a balanced diet, and carefully control alcohol consumption.
• Exercise regularly and develop healthy sleeping patterns.
Don’t let embarrassment cause you to neglect getting help. Anxiety is a treatable problem.
Harold H. LeCrone, Jr., Ph.D. Copyright © 2004