~ Anxiety: A Complication of Grief ~
Anxiety is one of the most common complaints
seen in medical practice. Anxiety disorders as a group affect more than
19 million adults in the United States. Children and adolescents can also
develop anxiety disorders. People who are anxious report a subjective feeling
of apprehension, uneasiness, tension or terror in response to danger. Other
terms used by patients to describe anxiety are nervousness
Most people experience feelings of anxiety before
an important event such as a big exam, business presentation, or first
date; this anxiety is generally brief and relatively mild. Anxiety disorders,
in contrast, are chronic, relentless, and can become progressively worse
if not treated that fill people's lives with overwhelming anxiety and fear.
Tormented by panic attacks, obsessive thoughts, flashbacks of traumatic
events, nightmares, or countless frightening physical symptoms, some people
with anxiety disorders even become housebound.
Anxiety disorders, in particular post traumatic
stress disorder may occur after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic
event such as rape assult, child abuse, natural or human-caused disasters
or accidents. Events such as the recent September 11th attack can precipitate
an anxiety disorder.
Different Types of Anxiety Disorders
Each anxiety disorder has its own distinct features,
but they are all bound together by the common theme of excessive, irrational
fear and dread.
Anxiety Disorders can Co-Exist with Other Physical
or Mental Disorders
Panic Disorder—Repeated episodes of intense
fear that strike often and without warning. Physical symptoms include chest
pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, abdominal distress,
feelings of unreality, and fear of dying.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder—Repeated, unwanted
thoughts or compulsive behaviors that seem impossible to stop or control.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder—Persistent
symptoms that occur after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event
such as rape or other criminal assault, war, child abuse, natural or human-caused
disasters, or crashes. Nightmares, flashbacks, numbing of emotions, depression,
and feeling angry, irritable or distracted and being easily startled are
common. Family members of victims can also develop this disorder.
Phobias—Two major types of phobias are social
phobia and specific phobia. People with social phobia have an overwhelming
and disabling fear of scrutiny, embarrassment, or humiliation in social
situations, which leads to avoidance of many potentially pleasurable and
meaningful activities. People with specific phobia experience extreme,
disabling, and irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual
danger; the fear leads to avoidance of objects or situations and can cause
people to limit their lives unnecessarily.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder—Constant, exaggerated
worrisome thoughts and tension about everyday routine life events and activities,
lasting at least six months. Almost always anticipating the worst even
though there is little reason to expect it; accompanied by physical symptoms,
such as fatigue, trembling, muscle tension, headache, or nausea.
Anxiety disorders may accompany almost any illness
such as cancer, arthritis, diabetes or heart disease. It is common for
an anxiety disorder to accompany depression, eating disorders, substance
abuse, or another anxiety disorder. Therefore it is important that
the accompanying disorders are also treated. Before beginning any treatment,
however, it is important to have a thorough medical examination to rule
out other possible causes of symptoms.
Common Symptoms Associated with Anxiety
People experiencing anxiety can manifest a wide
variety of signs and symptoms. Common symptoms of anxiety disorders include
unrealistic or excessive worry, sleep disturbances, dizziness, jitteriness,
racing or pounding heart, upset stomach, numbness in hands, face or feet,
and fatigue. a listing of potential complaings include:
Tightness in chest
Tingling in hands or feet
Cold, clammy hands
Screening for Mental Health Inc. also offers information
and questions as part of their ongoing National Anxiety Disorders Screening
The National Institute of Mental Health has a
other information about anxiety.
National Institute of Mental Health.
Facts About Anxiety Disorders. Publication No. OM-99 4152 Printed
January 1999. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/anxiety/adfacts.cfm
National Institute of Mental Health.
Anxiety Disorders. Updated June 4, 2001. Available at:
Friedman HH. (ed) Problem-Oriented
Medical Diagnosis. 4th Ed. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company, 1987.
late, I'm late, for a very important date.
The White Rabbit
Alice in Wonderland
See the Emergency
911 Page for links to immediate resources
if you are feeling helpless,
hopeless, overwhelmingly depressed, or suicidal.
| A Healing Place
| Loss & Grief
| Emergency Pick-Me-Ups
| Condolence & Sympathy
| Transitional Medicine
| Butterflies & Blazes
About this Site