The Oxford Dictionary of Psychology defines anxiety as "a state of uneasiness, accompanied by dysphoria and somatic signs and symptoms of tension, focused on apprehension of possible failure, misfortune, or danger."
So now you may be thinking to yourself, "What does that all mean and how do I know if I'm suffering from anxiety?" Anxiety is basically the reaction one has to stressful events that can cause a person to feel nervous, tense and/or apprehensive. There is no denying that many of us suffer from some form of anxiety but how it affects our daily lives is what we need to look out for when determining whether or not to get help.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to determine whether you should be reaching out for help...
If you answered "Yes" to most of these questions, then you may be suffering from anxiety. One of the first steps you can take is to schedule an appointment with a physician to rule out any medical conditions. Medical conditions like thyroid problems, diabetes, etc., can cause physiological symptoms like heart palpitations, headaches, nausea, etc., thus causing you to feel like you are anxious. Appropriate treatment usually alleviates the anxious feeling.
If medical conditions are not the cause for the anxiety, you should then consider speaking with a therapist. By collaborating with a trained professional, you both can work together to get to the bottom of what is causing the anxiety. For example, are there life changing events that are causing additional stress? Events like a new job, a new relationship, caring for a loved one, etc. can each cause anxiety. The goal of therapy should be to learn strategies and techniques that you can incorporate into your daily routine so as to help reduce the anxiety and/or minimize it's impact on your your ability to function and feel good.
Do you have any questions about anxiety? Maybe you know of some strategies that have worked for you or someone you know? If so, please share them below.
During my recent research into Panic disorders, I came across an eye-opening statistic by the National Institute of Mental Health. It stated, “Panic disorder affects about 6 million American adults and is twice as common in women as men.” It further went on to explain how panic attacks, a precursor to panic disorders, can begin to appear in late adolescence and early adulthood. As a result, I composed this blog post to answer some basic questions related to panic attacks, especially when someone should consider getting medical or mental health treatment.
What is a Panic Attack?
According to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) a panic attack is characterized by the abrupt presence of various symptoms which tend to build within a short time frame. A sense of imminent danger or impending doom, along with an urge to escape, can also be characteristic of a panic attack.
How Do I Know if I’m Having a Panic Attack?
Symptoms of a panic attack can cause somatic and/or cognitive reactions. Somatic reactions are generally physical symptoms that usually suggest a medical condition exists. Symptoms like palpitations, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, nausea, chest pain, dizziness, etc. are a few examples of the symptoms an individual can experience while having a panic attack.
Cognitive reactions affect the way a person thinks. For example, an individual experiencing a panic attack will often report feeling like they are losing control, a fear of dying or a belief that something disastrous will happen. These reactions are typical of a panic attack especially when they occur in the absence of real danger.
When Should I Seek Treatment?
For some individuals, they may only experience a panic attack once. If, however, you notice you are having recurrent episodes of a panic attack and/or feelings of anxiety, you should definitely begin by contacting your physician. A medical evaluation can inform you whether there is a medical explanation for the symptoms you are experiencing.
Should your physician report no medical explanation, consulting with a mental health provider should then be considered. A mental health provider like a psychologist, social worker, counselor, etc., can help you identify what may be triggering the attacks and/or whether you have some unresolved or repressed issues that need to be addressed.
Overall, if you have experienced a couple of panic attacks in a relatively short time period, you should consult with your primary care physician and/or mental health care professional. Doing so may help prevent the attacks from turning into a disorder, which can affect your social and/or physical ability to function.
Do you have any thoughts or questions about panic attacks? Please post them below.