Understanding Panic and Other Anxiety Disorders

Understanding Panic and Other Anxiety Disorders

Understanding Panic and Other Anxiety Disorders

Understanding Panic and Other Anxiety Disorders

Synopsis

A practicing psychiatrist brings patients the latest in pharmacological & therapeutic treatments for these stress-related maladies.

Excerpt

Just over two decades ago, the idea of an emotional disturbance called panic disorder was officially introduced into common discussion among psychiatrists. Since that time much research, revision, and dissemination of knowledge have been undertaken regarding a group of disorders that are now fairly well recognized. Diverse studies indicate that 1.5 to 3.5 percent of the population experience panic disorder at some point in their lives, and many other people are afflicted with related disorders, such as social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and specific phobia.

It's estimated that in the United States somewhere between three and six million people are affected by panic disorder. Although cultural differences allow for a variety of symptom patterns, the incidence of the disorder doesn't vary much according to social class or race. Women get panic disorder about twice as often as men. The disorder tends to make its initial appearance when a person is a young adult, but it can occur for the first time at any age. It is believed that about 70 to 90 percent of patients suffering frompanic disorder will show significant improvement with appropriate treatment.

Symptoms of panic disorder were generally underreported and underrecognized by persons in the medical profession until fairly recently. Many people who were suffering sought help in emergency rooms and doctors' offices, undergoing all manner of general examinations and laboratory tests to rule out various medical conditions. Frequently, nothing could be discovered to explain the difficulties, with the result that people were dismissed without adequate treatment. (Part of the problem in diagnosing panic disorder is that its symptoms mimic those of other, nonpsychiatric, conditions.) In fact, not much in the way of pharmacological treatment was available for this disorder until the last two decades, but in recent years . . .

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