UNDERSTANDING ANXIETY, PANIC, AND AGORAPHOBIC DISORDERS

Originally Published June 6, 2016
By: Amy Cooper, Detroit Ginger


Photo: ACRONYM

Photo: ACRONYM

This is not so much my writing as it is something that I think people need to read and understand in terms of people with Anxiety, Panic, and Agoraphobic disorders. 

I will preface this with that these three things cannot be controlled. The biggest mistake I ever made years ago was telling someone with anxiety to just "get passed it," that it was "all in their head" and that "they were doing it to themselves." How very wrong I was. 

With anxiety, you are constantly worried and sometimes it's to the point where the same thought will loop through your mind. You won't be rocking back and forth like a "psycho" per say, but you'll not be able to escape the feeling of dread about what is stressing you out. 

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America shares this tidbit of info: 

"GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) 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."

They also explain that "some people can have difficulty carrying out the simplest daily activities when their anxiety is severe."

When it gravitates into more so of a panic nature, which is a gray area in between anxiety and panic attacks, the best explanation is to feel like you aren't in control of your thoughts, rationalizations, and that you can't calm down. 

People react in different ways, which stem between full on obvious panic, zoning out, crying, or overall dread of a situation. Many people who have anxiety also can sometimes react poorly to a large group of people in one place. For example, Times Square during New Years' Eve is not a place you take a person with an anxiety and panic disorder. 

The ADAA explains panic disorders as the following: 

"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."

When a panic attack comes to the surface, you cannot control it. Bottom Line: That's why it's called a panic attack. When it hits you, all rational thought goes out the window, and the best way to deal with it is to get in a quiet place where you can focus on calming down, and if you have medication for panic attacks, take it.

The most important advice given on panic attacks is that you have to learn how to "ride the wave." What goes up, must come down, and what people who don't understand anxiety or panic attacks fail to understand is that we can't always EXPLAIN what's happening, nor are we able to answer a million questions as to what's happening. Most of the time, trying to talk it out in an actual panic attack situation will only make it worse, especially with people who do not understand it.

You will also potentially experience an aggressive increase in heart rate, blood pressure spike, and shortness of breath, which sometimes can lead to hyperventilation.

Agoraphobia is listed with the AADA's explanation of panic attacks, which shares the following: 

"Some people stop going into situations or places in which they've previously had a panic attack in anticipation of it happening again.
These people have agoraphobia, and they typically avoid public places where they feel immediate escape might be difficult, such as shopping malls, public transportation, or large sports arenas."

Though the article with the AADA does not suggest this, people who have caused anxiety to a person might also trigger panic just by being around them, but there's no medical proof of this (except experience). 

There's not really a conclusion to this piece, except to explain that Anxiety, Panic and Agoraphobic disorders are very much a real thing, and are not to be played off as something that is not considered a medical condition.

It also does not mean that the person experiencing them is weak. In fact, many people who suffer from anxiety and depression have been in traumatic experiences that have worn them down over time. The AADA even says "biological factors, family background, and life experiences, particularly stressful ones, play a role." 

If you've skimmed this article, please take the time and read the information above, and learn how to understand this widespread and unpreventable issue. It just might do you some good.