Anxiety disorders are common place these days, with as many as 17% of people will/have suffer/ed some form of anxiety in their lives (Somers, Goldner, Waraich, & Hsu, 2006), from being concerned about most anything, to full blown attacks with physical symptoms. Anxiety disorders seem to be a result of a combination of biological, psychological and other individual factors (CAMH, 2014). If one feels nervous or fearful about a situation, this is normal, but if the feelings are ongoing and creates significant distress and causes disruption in daily living (CAMH, 2014), then this is considered a disorder.
An anxiety disorder, like a panic attack, can strike without warning and is accompanied by physical symptoms of heart pounding; heavy perspiration; rapid breathing (hyperventilating); shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; and weakness or dizziness (CAMH, 2014) (Nevid et al, 2013). Psychological symptoms, like unrealistic thoughts of losing control, going crazy or dying are described, and the experiencer is keenly aware of changes in their heart rates (S. Taylor, 2000), believing that they are having a heart attack, when there is nothing wrong with their heart. Panic attacks occur suddenly and quickly, reaching a peak in intensity within 10 minutes and lasts about 20 minutes (Nevid, et al, 2013).
The exact cause is not known and attacks occur when adrenaline is released to prepare the body for ‘fight or flight’ even when there are no obvious dangers present (Nursing Times, 2003). The biological perspective can be addressed, where the inhibitory neurotransmitters responsible for toning down anxiety called gamm-aminobutyric acid, and/or, the serotonin or norepinehrine receptors, also implicated in anxiety disorders (D.S. Baldwin, 2006), are a dysfunction in the brain. Coupled with this, are instinctual behavioural consequences of responding to a conditioned fear stimulus, which prompts the overwhelming urge to get away quickly...
References: Nevid, J. S., Greene, B., Johnson, P.A., Taylor, S., & MacNab, M. (2013). Essentials of Abnormal Psychology in a Changing World (3rd Canadian Ed., pg. 98, 99, 101, 102, 103, 104, 103, 117, 124, 125, 131, 135). Canada: Pearson Canada Inc.
Canadian Mental Health Association, Anxiety Disorders: Understanding Anxiety Disorders, retrieved 2014-02-05
Merriam-Webster, n.d., “Per Se." Merriam-Webster.com., retrieved 2014-02-06
Nursing Times, Mental Health: Panic Attacks, retrieved 2014-02-06
McGraw-Hill Higher Education.com, Abnormal Psychology, retrieved 2014-02-05
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