her third trip to the emergency department in two days. She
had been home watching TV when all of a sudden her heart
started racing, she felt her face flush, her hands tingle and
it was hard to catch her breath.
scared because she felt like she was dying.
started crying uncontrollably, making it all the more
difficult to breathe. She was frustrated with the emergency
room staff because they felt a healthy 20-year-old who had a
thorough medical workup completed two days before was not
having a heart attack but, rather, an anxiety attack.
above scenario is not an uncommon one, especially the
frustration a person may feel if they believe doctors are not
taking their condition seriously or saying "itís all in
way, they are not entirely wrong. Anxiety is all in the head.
experience some anxiety at different periods in time. Itís
the brainís way of getting us ready to face or escape
danger, or deal with stressful situations.
example, anxiety before exams can make one study more and,
hence, do well on a test. However, at times, the anxiety can
be quite severe or exaggerated in relation to the actual
situation. This can lead to intense physical sensations,
anxious thoughts, worries and avoidant behaviors that impact
example would be skipping school the day of a test because one
is so anxious or having a panic attack to the point that one
canít take a test.
does anxiety manifest with physical symptoms?
this simplified explanation: The brain is an extremely
powerful organ. Itís, in a way, the central command center
for the rest of the body and has an influence over all the
different organ systems. When this central command system is
hijacked by anxiety, the anxiety has free reign to cause havoc
in the different organ systems, creating actual physical
symptoms even though thereís nothing wrong with the organ
care and emergency medicine providers usually are the first
line of defense. Their methodical approach to rule out medical
causes ó such as thyroid, heart and other hormonal problems
ó and then diagnose an anxiety disorder is a positive
approach to diagnosing an anxiety condition.
news is anxiety disorders are manageable.
are available to help in the short- or long-term. A number of
drug-free ways of managing anxiety, including stress reduction
techniques, exercise, breathing exercises and yoga, exist.
Cognitive behavioral therapy, which teaches your brain to
change thought patterns, also can help.
you hear "itís an anxiety disorder," donít
despair or think no one is taking you seriously. Rejoice in
the fact there is no life-threatening medical problem causing
your symptoms, and ask your health care provider about the
best way for you to gain control over anxiety.