Anxiety and panic disorders are very common, and can be a common call to 911. For those who suffer from an anxiety disorder, it can be hard to describe what they are feeling. The ADAA or the Anxiety Disorder Associate of America has this to say about generalized anxiety disorder:
“Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worry about everyday things.
People with the disorder, which is also referred to as GAD, experience exaggerated worry and tension, often expecting the worst, even when there is no apparent reason for concern. They anticipate disaster and are overly concerned about money, health, family, work, or other issues. GAD is diagnosed when a person worries excessively about a variety of everyday problems for at least 6 months.
Sometimes just the thought of getting through the day produces anxiety. They don’t know how to stop the worry cycle and feel it is beyond their control, even though they usually realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants.
GAD affects 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population, in any given year. Women are twice as likely to be affected.
The disorder comes on gradually and can begin across the life cycle, though the risk is highest between childhood and middle age. Although the exact cause of GAD is unknown, there is evidence that biological factors, family background, and life experiences, particularly stressful ones, play a role.
When their anxiety level is mild, people with GAD can function socially and be gainfully employed. Although they may avoid some situations because they have the disorder, some people can have difficulty carrying out the simplest daily activities when their anxiety is severe.
Panic disorder is diagnosed in people who experience spontaneous seemingly out-of-the-blue panic attacks and are preoccupied with the fear of a recurring attack. Panic attacks occur unexpectedly, sometimes even during sleep.
About six million American adults experience panic disorder in a given year. Typically developing in early adulthood, women are twice as likely as men to have panic disorder.” – www.adaa.org
A patient with an anxiety disorder can be a difficult call if you have never dealt with these disorders before. The patient can feel like they are dying, and do not understand why you can not find anything wrong with them. Some people can become so wrapped up in the disorder that they can not live a normal life. It becomes difficult to attend social events because of irrational fear of crowds or new places.
Symptoms can vary widely and can feel like a heart attack, asthma attack or other severe conditions. Such symptoms can include: chest pains, difficulty breathing, rapid heart rate, sweating, shaking, nausea, dizziness, or chills. Since these symptoms can mimic other disorders and diseases it can be months or years before a correct diagnosis is made.