Anxiety / Panic Attacks
Feeling anxious every now and then is a normal emotion. Many people feel nervous when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or making an important decision. Anxiety disorders are not the same. They cause distress that interferes with your ability to lead a normal life. This is excessive, unrealistic worry and tension when there is nothing to provoke the anxiety. This type of disorder is a serious mental illness. For people with this disorder, worry and fear are constant and overwhelming, and can be disabling.
Examples of anxiety disorders include panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. People with panic disorder have feelings of terror that strike suddenly and repeatedly with no warning. Social anxiety disorder involves overwhelming worry and self-consciousness about everyday social situations. Specific phobias are intense fears of a specific object or situation, such as heights or flying. Treatment includes counseling or medications, including antidepressants.
Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders
The exact cause of anxiety disorders is unknown, but anxiety disorders -- like other forms of mental illness -- are not the result of personal weakness, a character flaw, or poor upbringing. As scientists continue their research on mental illness, it is becoming clear that many of these disorders are caused by a combination of factors, including changes in the brain and environmental stress.
Some symptoms of anxiety disorders are:
- Feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness
- A Feeling of choking
- Problems sleeping
- Cold or sweaty hands or feet
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Unusually strong or irregular heartbeats
- Not being able to be still and calm
- Dry mouth
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
- Muscle tension