Anxiety is a normal reaction to a threatening situation and results from an increase in the amount of adrenaline from the sympathetic nervous system. This increased adrenaline speeds the heart and respiration rate, raises blood pressure, and diverts blood flow to the muscles. These physical reactions are appropriate for escaping from danger but when they cause anxiety in many situations throughout the day, they may be detrimental to a normal lifestyle. An anxiety disorder is a disorder where feelings of fear, apprehension, or anxiety are disruptive or cause distortions in behavior, (Coon, 526); they are psychiatric illnesses that are not useful for normal functioning. At times, an underlying illness or disease can cause persistent anxiety. Treatment of the illness or disease will stop the anxiety. Anxiety illnesses affect more than 23 million Americans with about 10 million Americans suffering from the most common, general anxiety disorder . (Harvard, 1). Common anxiety disorders are panic attacks (panic disorder), phobias, and general anxiety disorder (GAD). Panic attacks Panic attacks can begin with a feeling of intense terror followed by physical symptoms of anxiety. A panic attack is characterized by unpredictable attacks of severe anxiety with symptoms not related to any particular situation. (Hale, 1886). The person experiencing the attack may not be aware of the cause. Symptoms include four or more of the following: pounding heart, difficulty breathing, dizziness, chest pain, shaking, sweating, choking, nausea, depersonalization, numbness, fear of dying, flushes, fear of going crazy. Heredity, metabolic factors, hyperventilation, and psychological factors may contribute to anxiety causing panic attacks. (Hale, 1886) Panic disorder tends to run in families with first degree relatives of patients having four to seven times greater risk than the general population. Metabolically, the levels of three neurotransmitters, nor-epinephrine, gamma-aminobutyric acid...
Bibliography: 1. Coon, D., Essentials of Psychology, Seventh Edition, 1997. Brooks/Cole Publishing, Pacific Grove, California, 526. 2. Harvard Health Letter, July 1998 v23 i9 p1-2, Chronic Anxiety: How to Stop Living on the Edge. 3. British Medical Journal, June 28, 1997 v314 n7098 p1886 4. Public Health Reports, July-August 1996, v111 n4 p293 Anxiety disorders lead mental ills in the United States. 5. Pamphlet by: National Institute of Mental Health, September 1994 , 2, 5-6 6. Wickelgren, I., When Worry Rules Your Life Health, November-December 1997, v11 p56
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