The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (American Psychiatric Association 2000), is considered the gold standard for the assessment of anxiety disorders, and its glossary of technical terms defines anxiety as "the apprehensive anticipation of future danger or misfortune accompanied by a feeling of dysphoria or somatic symptoms of tension. The focus of anticipated danger may be external or internal" (p. 820). The lifetime prevalence of DSM-IV anxiety disorders is 28.8%, with a median age at onset of 11 years (Kessler et al. 2005). The age at onset distributions for anxiety disorders are diverse, with specific phobia and separation anxiety disorders having a very early median onset at age 7 years, social phobias at age 13 years, and other anxiety disorders from ages 19 to 31 years (Kessler et al. 2005). Research examining 5-year trajectories of anxiety disorders during adolescence shows a slight decrease in panic disorder, school anxiety, and separation anxiety symptoms over time and stability in social phobia symptoms (Hale et al. 2008). In general, girls are more likely than boys to report an anxiety disorder (Cos-tello et al. 2004), and symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder symptoms appear to slightly increase for girls and decrease for boys during adolescence (Hale et al. 2008).

Patients with chronic physical illnesses have a higher adjusted lifetime prevalence of anxiety disorders (Colon and Popkin 2002), and strong evidence supports associations among anxiety disorders, chronic medical illness, low levels of physical health-related quality of life, and physical disability (Roy-Byrne et al. 2008). For example, various studies examining the prevalence of any anxiety disorder and comorbid medical illness among adults have reported rates of 23%-52% for patients with asthma, 18%-33% for patients with cancer, and 17%-35% for patients with chronic pain (Roy-Byrne et al. 2008). These rates do not differentiate premorbid anxiety disorders from anxiety symptoms that develop in response to the medical illness or its treatment. For instance, Schuckit (1983) reported that physical causes of anxiety (i.e., toxic or medical etiologies for symptoms), separate from a patient's psychological reaction, are seen in 10%-40% of adult patients presenting with anxiety or depression. Frequent users of medical care also display increased rates of anxiety (Barsky et al. 1999). Panic disorder in particular may be more common in physically ill patients, especially those with respiratory disease (Coffman and Levenson 2005).

Free Yourself from Panic Attacks

Free Yourself from Panic Attacks

With all the stresses and strains of modern living, panic attacks are become a common problem for many people. Panic attacks occur when the pressure we are living under starts to creep up and overwhelm us. Often it's a result of running on the treadmill of life and forgetting to watch the signs and symptoms of the effects of excessive stress on our bodies. Thankfully panic attacks are very treatable. Often it is just a matter of learning to recognize the symptoms and learn simple but effective techniques that help you release yourself from the crippling effects a panic attack can bring.

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