Wednesday, May 14, 2014

How to Diagnose Your Moods - Anxiety and Panic

David D. Burns, M.D. wrote The Feeling Good Handbook in 1980, revised in 1999.

In Chapter 3, Dr. Burns discusses how to diagnose your moods.

He gives various tests to determine where you are in your mood. In determining the categories and symptoms, this helps you diagnose your mood.

We are going to start with Anxiety and Panic. Dr. Burns says that "Clinicians diagnose several types of anxiety. If your score on the Burns Anxiety Inventory is elevated, see if any of the following fits your symptoms."

Dr. Burns then asks you to complete a Diagnostic Summary filling Yes or No for Generalized anxiety disorder, Social phobia, Simple phobia, Panic disorder, Agoraphobia, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and Hypochondriasis.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder
If you feel anxious and tense all day long, regardless of where you are or what you're doing, and if these symptoms persist more or less continuously for six months or longer, the problem is called generalized anxiety.

Some people with generalized anxiety harbor the superstitious belief that anxiety and worry will help them.

Chronic worriers frequently believe that anxiety will protect their family and friends from danger.

Social Phobia
A social phobia is the fear of other people. People with social phobias feel shy and are afraid of looking foolish in front of others. They don't want to be in any situation where people will notice how anxious they are. You may have social phobia if you're afraid of public speaking, being with groups of people at meetings or social gatherings, introducing yourself to others, going out on dates, eating in front of others, saying foolish things at parties, or urinating in a public restroom.

Simple Phobia
A simple phobia is the fear of something specific like heights, a certain animal, flying in an airplane, choking, thunder, driving, darkness, closed spaces, being buried alive, elevators, blood, dirt, or germs, or bridges. Many phobias have Greek names. For example, the fear of heights is called acrophobia; the fear of closed spaces is called claustrophobia, and the fear of being buried alive is called laphephobia.

Phobias are uncomfortable, but they are not symptoms of severe mental illness or a weak charter. They can usually be treated effectively and quickly, but there is surprisingly little scientific knowledge about what causes them.

Panic Disorder
A panic attack is a burst of intense, overwhelming anxiety that generally lasts for a brief period -- sometimes for as little as a few minutes and rarely for more than several hours. The attacks seem to come out of the blue for no apparent reason. During a panic attack you will notice at least four uncomfortable sensations like: dizziness, a pounding of the heart, a lump in your throat, racing thoughts, lightheadedness, trembling or shaking, tightness in your chest, palpitations, diarrhea, or upset stomach, rapid breathing, a choking or smothering sensation, shortness of breath, numbness or tingling fingers, hot flashes, chills or sweating.

You may feel strange and thing that you are unreal or the world may seem unreal.

These symptoms develop suddenly and increase dramatically in intensity within ten minutes. At the height of the panic attack, you may be terrified by one or more of these fears:

  • What if I lose control?
  • What if I go crazy?
  • What if I have a heart attack?
  • What if I faint?
  • What if I die?

After a short time, the episode wears off. You live in dread of another attack. Your life becomes a constant vigil as you loo for some sign that this terrible experience is about to hit again. This leads to the fear of fear itself.

Agoraphobia is the fear of being in open spaces along or traveling away from home. People with agoraphobia are afraid of being in situations where help might not be available in the event they develop frightening or embarrassing symptoms, such as dizziness or fainting, losing bladder or bowel control, having a heart attack, smothering, or cracking up. As a result, agoraphobics restrict their travel and may need a trusted companion when they travel away from home.

Agoraphobia is one of the most common phobias, affecting an estimated 1 million Americans, as is far more common among women.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Obsessions are persistent, intrusive, nonsensical thoughts that you can't shake out of your head. A compulsion is a ritualistic act that you feel compelled to repeat over and over in order to ward off the danger.

Thus, the obsession is the repetitious, frightening thought and the compulsion is the repetitious action that results from the thought.

People with this disorder are preoccupied with the idea that they are suffering from a serious illness such as cancer or heart disease. They usually go from doctor to doctor getting examinations and reassurances that they are in perfect health.

Hypochondriasis, like all other forms of anxiety described, is nearly always caused by other problems that the individual is ignoring.

Next week we'll discuss the types of Depression and Mania.

Reference Material: The Feeling Good Handbook by David D. Burns, M.D.

Copyright: dogfella / 123RF Stock Photo

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