Anxiety is an extremely common occurrence that affects everyone at some time and is characterized by an unpleasant and unjustified sense of fear that is usually associated with autonomic symptoms including hypervigilance, palpitations, sweating, lightheadedness, hyperventilation, diarrhea, and urinary frequency as well as fatigue and insomnia. Anxiety is thought to be mediated through the limbic system, particularly the cingulate gyrus and the septal-hippocampal pathway, as well as the frontal and temporal cortex. The term anxiety disorder is used to denote significant distress and dysfunction resulting from anxiety, including panic attacks and anxiety with specific phobias. Chronic, moderately severe anxiety tends to run in families and may be associated with other anxiety disorders or depression. The differential diagnosis of anxiety states includes other psychiatric conditions such as anxious depression as well as schizophrenia, which may present as a panic attack with disordered thinking. Uncomplicated anxiety may be a common problem in patients who abuse alcohol and hypnotic-sedatives, amphetamines, and caffeine. Other medical conditions that may be associated with anxiety include hypoglycemia, hyperthyroidism, and pheochromocytoma. As an organic disorder, anxiety is not intrinsically part of any neurological disease, although it is commonly seen with Gilles de la Tourette's syndrome, Parkinson's disease, and various headache syndromes.
Patients with obsessive-compulsive disorders have intruding unwanted thoughts that are distressful and recurrent ideas, images, and impulses that cannot be pushed out of consciousness. The patient may ruminate on these thoughts endlessly, impairing his or her ability to function. Most of these individuals develop rituals and compulsions that are performed to ward off an unwanted occurrence or to fulfill an obsession. Anxiety may be associated with the obsessions, and the performance of certain rituals may temporarily relieve this anxiety. The cause of this condition is unknown, but abnormalities in CNS serotonergic neurons have been implicated. Various studies and reports suggest that the frontotemporal lobes, cingulum, and basal ganglia may play a role in the generation of this behavior. Obsessive-compulsive disorder occurs in approximately 2 percent of the population and is more common in first-degree relatives of afflicted patients. Typically, this disorder begins in the third decade of life and is usually chronic with few remissions. This abnormal behavior may occur in the presence of depression or may be associated with certain neurological disorders including postencephalitic parkinsonism and Gilles de la Tourette's syndrome.
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This guide Don't Panic has tips and additional information on what you should do when you are experiencing an anxiety or panic attack. With so much going on in the world today with taking care of your family, working full time, dealing with office politics and other things, you could experience a serious meltdown. All of these things could at one point cause you to stress out and snap.