Some people are unclear on what anxiety is precisely. Anxiety is a level of stress, or a level of your reaction to stress. Anxiety can affect us all differently and at different levels. Some of us experience very mild cases of it when faced with stressful situations, while others struggle with it their entire lives. Some even experience anxiety attacks, more commonly known as panic attacks. Those who suffer from continual or ongoing anxiety/panic attacks are said to have anxiety/panic disorder.
At some point in life we will all experience moments of anxiety. Moments like this can arise when faced stressful situations such as; going for a job interview, public speaking or taking an important exam. These moments occur as a natural part of our lives and the emotional, mental and physical feelings typically subside as soon as we are removed from the situation. However for some, the anxiety can be more severe. It is estimated that approximately 13% of the population suffer from an anxiety disorder of one kind or another. In the UK, one in ten people suffer from anxiety severe enough to interfere with their normal daily lifestyle.
How do you know if you have a disorder? Anxiety and panic related issues cross the realm into a disorder when the affects are excessive or prolonged. This transcends the boundaries of merely being a high strung person or constantly stressed out, and can often have a medical or psychological cause.
Physical symptoms of a panic attack can include heart palpitations, diarrhea, dry mouth, abdominal discomfort, shortness of breath, chest pain, difficulty swallowing, frequent urination and lightheadedness. A person suffering from a panic attack may experience one, all, or a combination of these symptoms. Since many of these symptoms resemble a heart attack, a person will typically become very fearful and often go to the emergency room when having a panic attack.
If you experience any of these signs and symptoms you should immediately seek medical attention so that other, live threatening matters can be ruled out, (such as a heart attack). Once a diagnosis is made, the treament can begin. There are several different treatment options available and each should be discussed with your physician to determine what is right for you.
For those not suffering from anxiety disorder but still struggling with stress, many over the counter medications and “self help” programs are available. Panic Away, for example, is a self therapy type of approach that has received rave reviews. I would strong recommend that you consult your doctor before taking any non-prescription drugs. Sadly there are companies in the world who put more importance on the money you will pay them for their drugs than they do on making sure that drug is safe for you to be taking.