Panic, as well as anxiety disorders, are present in over 2 million American people. Panic is felt as an overwhelming distress without any relief. Anxiety shows its way in a physical sense in terms of heart palpitations, stomach discomfort, headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, and/or chest discomfort.
There are some interesting facts about Anxiety Disorders that help people to understand how they are classified and how they are diagnosed. For instance, women are more prone than men to have anxiety and depression. Although men are affected by these disorders there are twice as many women who are diagnosed and treated. Some physicians theorize that the numbers may be closer but that men are more reluctant to express their complaints to their physicians.
The percentage of men in the general population who are diagnosed with anxiety disorders is close to 25% while the percentage in women is closer to 75%. These percentages represent all of the anxiety disorders and not just attacks or panic attacks.
Some of the signs and symptoms of anxiety panic disorders are related to the neurotransmitter serotonin, which plays an important role in the expression of the symptoms of depression, anxiety and panic disorders.
Women have a higher number of serotonin receptors than men which may account for the higher percentage of women who are affected by anxiety. When the body is unable to produce the correct amount of neurotransmitters, or too much, a woman’s brain will be more greatly affected because of the higher number of receptors.
Also related to the number of receptors and the hormonal differences in the sexes is the difference in the way men and women react to the anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medication currently on the market.
The signs and symptoms of anxiety panic disorder will reach its fullest intensity within one to two minutes and can fade after just 20 minutes. Most panic attacks are completed within 30 – 45 minutes while anxiety attacks come on more slowly and last for longer periods – up to several hours.
The initial diagnosis of a panic or anxiety disorder is most often in a person’s 20’s and 30’s. It is uncommon for the first attack to happen in the teens or after 40. Even people who are thought to be emotionally well-adjusted are as prone to anxiety or panic attacks which increases the evidence that there is a biochemical reaction responsible for the disorder and that it isn’t purely psychological.
The signs and symptoms of an anxiety panic disorder include chills, hot flashes, tingling in the hands or feet, an overwhelming sense of fear or anxiousness, chest pain, feeling like there is something in the throat, shaking, dizziness and nausea.
People who experience recurrent attacks may suffer several times a month with the subsequent attacks at the same severity and intensity as the first. It is even possible for someone to experience an attack awakening from a deep sleep.
One of the signs and symptoms of anxiety panic disorders that helps a psychologist to make a diagnosis is when people protect themselves by intentionally avoiding a situation that will provoke the symptoms.
Some researchers also believe that genetics plays a role in the development of the disorder since it appears to ‘run’ in families. Treatment in the form of medications and counseling has been very successful in patients who are compliant with the recommendations.
HelpGuide: Anxiety Attacks and Anxiety Disorders
MayoClinic: Generalized Anxiety Disorder
National Institute of Mental health: Generalized Anxiety Disorder
National Institute of Mental Health: What is Anxiety Disorder
National Institute of Mental Health: What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder