Consciously speaking: Knowing the difference between anxiety and panic is important

"I have been feeling nervous and anxious since my divorce, is this feeling anxiety or panic?"

Anxiety disorders are found most frequently in the general population and are found in nearly all mental disorders. When it is a main symptom it requires the help of a mental health professional.

Most anxiety disorders begin when a patient is relatively young.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) can be difficult to diagnose.

Worry is most operative and GAD patients worry about everything. GAD is found in 3-5 percent of the general adult population.

Let's look at a case history:

Case history No. 1

Gary Price had been a worrywart for most of his adult life. Even though he was successful at his job, he felt he was often walking a tight rope. His boss, a workaholic, wanted ideas implemented yesterday and often told Gary he was doing a good job.

This did not reassure Gary.

He felt uptight and had trouble concentrating at work. He did not think he was depressed and often enjoyed the activities he loved, football on Sunday afternoon, and going out with the guys.

He said his only problem was his uneasiness and worry. Valium made him drowsy so he quit taking it. Sometimes he would drink a beer to relax.

Gary's symptoms would fit the criteria for GAD. He had multiple worries. Despite repeated efforts to control these fears, (medication and alcohol) he had been unable to.

Patients who have feelings of anxiety do not always fulfill the criteria for a specific anxiety disorder.

Case history No. 2

Marilyn Adams was a 24-year-old woman who worked as a limo driver and drove people to and from the airport. She loved her job.

One day last winter while she was loading bags into the car a truck sped by her knocking her to the ground. She became frightened and scared every time she had to load luggage and she carefully avoided the traffic side of the vehicle. She avoided going out socially because she was feeling scared and panicky. She sought help from a therapist.

Marilyn's panic attacks have been established, originally associated with the specific work situation, and then more recently in other situations that involved being away from home. She avoided these situations.

Marilyn fit the criteria for a diagnosis of panic disorder with agoraphobia.

A person that feels panicky may not have the diagnosis of panic disorder.

Let me know what you think or ask me a question by e-mailing me at squiggylpc@hotmail.com Until next time, light and blessings to you.

Sandi Squicquero, M.Ed, LPC, has more than 20 years of counseling experience. She is a certified clinical hypnotherapist in medical hyponosis. She is the director and owner of The Medical Hypnosis and Counseling Center in Windsor.