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Anxiety Disorder: What is Anxiety Disorder?
Most people become depressed or experience stress and anxious feelings at times. Losing a loved one, getting fired from a job, going through a divorce or ending a relationship, and other difficult situations can lead a person to feel sad, lonely, scared, nervous, or anxious. Short-term depression, stress, or anxiety are often normal reactions to life’s stressors, yet the intensity of the emotional pain should decrease as the person heals from the emotional trauma.
When someone experiences symptoms daily or nearly daily for no apparent reason, or the intensity of the feelings after an emotional trauma does not diminish, it becomes increasingly more difficult to carry on with normal, everyday functioning. This person may be dealing with this disorder.
It is not uncommon for someone with ongoing stress to develop this disorder and also suffer from depression. More than one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with anxiety. The good news is that these disorders are both treatable, separately and together.
Anxiety Disorder and Brain Function:
With the qEEG or Brain Map as an assessment tool, we can see the electrical activity of the brain. We can then determine where and how the dysregulation occurs allowing us to develop treatment protocols to put the brain back into balance without medication.
The brain is the organ that ultimately experiences stress and anxious feelings, because it is the organ that determines our personality. In fact, the brain controls mood, personality, intelligence, and adapatability. It experiences our hopes and dreams, sorrows, and pain. Sometimes the brain is the sole cause of anxiety disorder; sometimes it is simply the organ that experiences the results of too much life stress.
Anxiety Disorder is usually the result of a combination of brain vulnerability and life stresses. It is important to understand that the brain is involved in both feelings and behavior. Actual brain function heavily influences how well we get along with others, how we think, how we feel, and how we act. When brain function is optimal, we tend to to work well; when our brains don’t react correctly, as in the case of this disorder, it is very hard for us to perform at our best.
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Anxiety and Common Symptoms:
All anxiety disorders share one major symptom: persistent or severe fear or worry in situations where most people wouldn’t feel threatened or stressed.
- Feelings of apprehension or dread
- Trouble concentrating
- Feeling tense and jumpy
- Anticipating the worst
- Watching for signs of danger
- Feeling like your mind’s gone blank
- Pounding heart
- Stomach upset or dizziness
- Frequent urination or diarrhea
- Shortness of breath
- Tremors and twitches
- Muscle tension
Symptoms of a Panic Attack include:
- Surge of overwhelming panic
- Feeling of losing control or going crazy
- Heart palpitations or chest pain
- Feeling like you’re going to pass out
- Trouble breathing or choking sensation
- Hot flashes or chills
- Trembling or shaking
- Nausea or stomach cramps
- Feeling detached or unreal
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Anxiety Disorder: Case Study
A 45 year old female presented with complaints of moderate to severe depression, anxiety, confusion, fear, short-term memory loss, dysarticulation and difficulty concentrating. Her past medical history was significant for meningitis at the age of two years, environmental allergies, and four automobile accidents in which she sustained whiplash injuries between October, 1994 and May, 1996. She relates that her symptoms escalated after her auto accidents.
She had sought professional counseling as her primary treatment during the past ten years with little alleviation of symptoms. At the time she sought neurofeedback therapy, she was struggling to function as the owner operator of a small consulting firm. She was finding her work responsibilities and interpersonal relationships more and more difficult to maintain due to a decreasing ability to problem solve, lack of short term memory and dysarticulation. She appeared overwhelmed by the symptoms she was experiencing.
After she completed approximately four months of neurofeedback training, she described what she felt as a profound improvement in her symptoms. The depression had lifted and her outlook on life was good and one of manageability again. She described her mental alertness and clarity in thinking as being significantly improved. She was able to manage work and personal responsibilities with a new confidence that she had never known. She described herself as feeling grounded and centered. She felt like she could finally set goals and reach them.
Of course, not every patient who undergoes neurofeedback training gets this kind of change. However, we do find improved outcomes in approximately 85 to 90 percent of our clients. Consistency in treatment and a positive attitude are important for success.
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