ANXIETY AND PANIC DISORDERS

2010/03/13
Published

Everyone has experienced situational anxiety and fear, such as when asked to speak in front of a group of people or being put on the spot unexpectedly. Anxiety and fear are normal biological reactions to stressors. However, this type of reactivity can escalate and become more frequent and persistent and begin to interfere with a person’s daily life. It is normal to feel anxious or fearful from time to time but when the anxiety and worry escalates to affect your daily life, or where the fear begins to control your actions, and left untreated, it can escalate and become a medical condition. Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric illness affecting both children and adults.

There are five main categories of this disorder:

1)     Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by heightened, or excessive worry that goes beyond rational reason and persists for more than six months.

2)     Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a further exaggeration of persistent, or recurring thoughts, obsessions, and actions being fueled by anxiety and fear.

3)     Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) involves anxiety and fear that is triggered from events that unconsciously remind the person of past serious unresolved emotional trauma.

4)     Panic Disorder involves the person suffering a sudden panic attack for no known reason.

5)     Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) relates to a person’s extreme worry, anxiety and/or fear of the reactions of others to them.

WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS FOR DEVELOPING AN ANXIETY DISORDER?

Ineffective biochemical processing. Anxiety disorders can come upon an individual suddenly, as a result of a severely upsetting event, or physical trauma. The brain produces chemical signals in response to emotions called peptides. Candice Pert discovered that these peptides can and do cross the blood brain barrier and carry the “molecule of emotion” to the body. In the normal sequence of events, when we experience an emotion, these peptides are created and then dissipate and are “extinguished” by the body. However, if neurological and emotional processing is interrupted, the extinguishment of these negative emotional molecules of emotion are stored in the body ready to become triggered by an associative event. This occurs to all of us but the degree of severity of the creating event and the degree of neuropeptides stored in the body determine the effect they will have on impacting a person’s emotional reality.

Other risk factors are the balance of a person’s brain chemistry, principally their dopamine, acetylcholine, gaba and serotonin ratios. Imbalances in core neurotransmitter levels tips the scale for us to develop anxiety, depression, insomnia, hyperactivity, inattention and brain fog to name a few. Our genetic make up also impacts our brain chemistry as well as our personality. Old head traumas as simple as falls impacting the head as a child, sports injuries, repetitive soccer head injuries, whiplash etc. all impact the brain’s ability to optimize its chemistry. Finally, life itself, some events impacting one person more than another, also leaves its biochemical scar on our brain function.

Our first reaction is to get this problem into immediate control, as its mere existence strikes panic in our heart from fear of loosing control in anticipation of the next “attack”. We seek quick fixes, and may leap toward a prescription drug solution only to realized that it masks the initiating cause, fails to deal with the emotional/biochemical processing necessary to change our brain chemistry’s predisposition to create anxiety and panic attacks and creates a state of perpetual drug dependency that may over time become less and less effective. Since few doctors and health care practitioners are trained to assess the emotional impact, the neurological chemistry and the physiological chemistry that merge to create this disorder, the treatment varies depending on whether one sees a body doc, a behavioral psychologist, a “brain drug” doc aka neurologist, and often involves the treatment of only one aspect of this essential triad!

Anxiety disorders are commonly misdiagnosed because they can also mimic physical illnesses such as chronic fatigue, depression, insomnia, muscle tension, digestive disorders, acid reflux, irritable bowel, or hyperactivity and neurosis. Only about one –third of individuals suffering from anxiety and panic attacks ever receive treatment. This means many are suffering needlessly.

HOW MUCH ANXIETY IS TOO MUCH?

We all live in a stressful environment from the daily news reports of environmental disasters, terrorism in the world, our economy, fear of job lay offs, marital stress from financial stress, to the normal stressors of child rearing; how do we know if we are suffering too much from anxiety disorders or that our symptoms will not pass in time?

Do you find yourself always thinking about something that worries you that you have no control over?

Have you been this way for at least 6 months, or feel that this could go on without resolution?

Have others told you that your concerns or fears are unreasonable or do you feel they are excessive or unreasonable?

Are you unable to control your thoughts that drive your anxiety, worry or fear?

If you answered yes to any of the above then you are on your way to developing an anxiety disorder.

Do you feel restless, unable to relax, feel wired and tired, or edgy?

Have you become more tired recently?

Are you having more trouble concentrating?

Do you feel short tempered or irritable?

Are you having more trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, restless in sleep or experiencing unsatisfied sleep?

Do you feel that your obsessive thoughts or concerns or feelings interfere with your daily life and relationships or work?

If you answered yes to three of these then you are highly likely suffering some degree of an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders can escalate into other emotional and neurological imbalances and complicate your diagnosis and treatment.

Have you experienced changes in your eating habits?

Have you experienced changes in your sleeping habits?

Are you sad or depressed more days than not?

Do you find yourself disinterested in areas of your life that you previously had interest in?

Do you feel more guilty about something in your life?

Do you feel a sense of self-condemnation?

Do you feel a sense of worthlessness?

Have you turned to, started to use, or increased using alcohol, prescription or non-prescription drugs?

Have you missed work, family obligations because of your anxiety disorder or because of the use of alcohol, or drugs?

Are you unable to stop using alcohol or drugs?

If you have answered yes to any of the above questions then you do need to find answers to the triggers and the chemistry behind what is driving these emotions and behaviors.

You can begin now by getting a baseline level of your current brain chemistry by ordering a urine Neurotransmitter test online at www.immunematrix.com (NeuroScreen/NeuroScience – urine testing
SKU: SKU16270). The test is done in your home and mailed out and takes two weeks for the results to come in and includes a consultation with a licensed health care practitioner.

Most prescription drugs that are used to treat anxiety disorders mimic or re-distribute a neurotransmitter and thus do provide relief by working with the existing supply of neurotransmitters in the brain. However, they create drug dependency because they do not restore brain chemistry balance and they can become ineffective over time for this very reason. Having imbalanced brain chemistry is entirely treatable and can be done along with prescriptive therapy. The treatment involves taking key natural supplements that will boost the brain’s synthesis of certain neurotransmitters to optimize those that need to be increased and therapy that extinguishes the negative emotional peptide to stop it’s recruiting function causing you to become situationally reactive and thus feeling out of control in certain situations, such as crossing bridges, panic in crowds, being stuck on the freeway, in elevators, and in stressful situations that are out of your control. Several effective emotional therapies are available and are keenly effective and include but are not limited to NET (neuro-emotional technique, the brain child of Dr. Scott Walker), EMDR, EFT, and NLP. By extinguishing the neuropeptides that allow the triggering event to recycle in the body, and by nutritionally addressing neurotransmitter imbalances in brain chemistry, you can put anxiety disorders behind you.

Please note:
Information on this site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

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Anna Manayan

Anna Manayan