Dr. M.J. Bazos MD,
Anxiety can be a normal "alarm
system" alerting you to danger. Imagine coming home and finding a burglar in
your living room. Your heart beats fast. Your palms get sweaty. Your mind races.
In this situation, anxiety can provide an extra spark to help you get out of
danger. In more normal but busy situations, it can give you the energy to get
things done. But sometimes anxiety can be out of control, giving you a sense of
dread and fear for no apparent reason. This kind of anxiety is a real problem
and can disrupt your life. The term "anxiety disorders" refers to a number of
conditions, including generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder, that are
explained in this handout.
Generalized anxiety disorder
is ongoing, excessive worry or fear that isn't related to a particular event or
situation. It is usually out of proportion to what you would expect -- for
instance, constantly worrying about a child who is perfectly healthy. Symptoms
of generalized anxiety disorder include the following:
- Muscle tension
- Trembling or shaking
- Shortness of breath
- Pounding heartbeat
- Dry mouth
- Loss of sleep
- Not being able to concentrate
is panic disorder?
Panic disorder is
another type of anxiety. It occurs when you have episodes of intense fear that
start abruptly. These are called panic attacks. Panic attacks feel like your
body's alarm system has been triggered when there is no danger. Panic attacks
usually last 5 to 30 minutes and can include the following symptoms:
pressure or chest pain
of breath or tightness in the throat
or numbness in the hands or feet
- Fear of
- Fear of
can begin during or after a stressful event in your life, such as the death of a
loved one or a divorce. Some people say they have been anxious their whole
lives. Other people suddenly become anxious without being able to point to a
reason. Anxiety may also be related to an illness or to a side effect of a
medicine. Anxiety disorders often run in families. They may be due to a chemical
imbalance in your body.
disorders be treated?
Yes. Talk to
your family doctor if you think you have a problem with anxiety. He or she can
help you make a plan to develop skills to cope with your anxiety. Your doctor
may also suggest counseling, medicine or both. A specific form of psychotherapy
called cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be very helpful in treating most
Tips on Coping
- Exercise on a regular basis.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Avoid abuse of alcohol or other
- Avoid caffeine.
- Learn and practice ways to