Anxiety disorders are among the most prevalent psychiatric conditions in the U.S. and in most other populations. Approximately 25% of the U.S. population meets criteria for at least one anxiety disorder. Anxiety is more common in women than men, and women have a 30% chance of experiencing an anxiety disorder some time during the course of their lives. Anxiety disorders include Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and specific Phobias.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a diffuse, unpleasant, vague sense of apprehension that is often accompanied by physical symptoms such as headache, stomach discomfort, perspiration, or tremulousness. Most people experience anxiety from time to time; pathologic anxiety (that which is considered adisorder due to severity of symptoms or impact on functioning), although common, is not normal and often necessitates psychiatric treatment.
The Distinction between Fear and Anxiety
Fear and anxiety act as alerting signals; they warn of impending danger and enable a person to take measures to deal with a threat. Fear is a rational response to a known, external, definite threat. Anxiety, on the other hand, is typically fear that is out of proportion to the severity of or the likelihood of the perceived threat.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is ongoing, excessive worry or fear that occurs more days than not for at least 6 months. Most people worry from time to time, but those with GAD worry so much that it interferes with their day to day life. Other signs of GAD include: trouble falling or staying asleep, muscle tension, irritability, trouble concentrating, fatigue or low energy level, and/or restlessnesss or feeling keyed up or on edge.
Patients with GAD typically respond very well to appropriate treatment with medication, but GAD typically responds more robustly to a combination of medication and counseling or psychotherapy.
Get help for anxiety by scheduling an appointment with Dr. Fairweather at (817) 283-4300.
Panic Disorder is a common condition in which a person has episodes of intense fear or anxiety that occur suddenly (often without warning). These episodes–callled panic attacks or anxiety attacks–can last from minutes to hours. Common symptoms of panic attacks are shortness of breath, heart racing, chest pain or tightness, sweating, shaking, nausea, lightheadedness or dizziness, out-of-body sensations, tingling or numbness (typically in the face, hands or feet), chills or hot flashes, feeling that you are choking, and a sense of impending doom or fear of dying, losing control, or going crazy.
Many of the symptoms that occur during a panic attack are the same as the symptoms of diseases of the heart, lungs, intestines or nervous system. The similarities between panic disorder and other diseases may add to the person’s fear and anxiety during and after a panic attack.
Just the fear of having a panic attack is often enough to trigger the symptoms, and many panic disorder patients worry excessively about when the next panic attack may occur. Most panic disorder patients do not have all of the above symptoms at once; however, the presence of at least four symptoms, if they occur simultaneously, strongly suggests that a person has panic disorder.
Treatment of panic disorder is essential, as the disorder is often disabling and tends to worsen with time. After you have been thoroughly evaluated, Dr. Fairweather will be able to tell you if your panic attacks are related to panic disorder or are caused by another psychiatric or medical condition. There are several highly effective treatments for panic disorder. Based on your particular symptom picture and your psychiatric and medical history, Dr. Fairweather will prescribe appropriate treatment. Most patients see improvement almost immediately. Many patients, once treatment has been optimized, are completely free from panic attacks.