Additional Information About Anxiety Disorders
People with panic disorder have recurrent, unexpected feelings of extreme fear and dread that strike for no apparent reason, causing their heart to race, rapid breathing, sweating, and shakiness. These "attacks" can send people to the hospital, believing they are having a heart attack.
These panic attacks can come right out of the blue for no apparent reason -- even when you're not in a situation that would normally make you feel stress, anxiety, or fear.
People with this type of anxiety disorder often avoid places where they've had panic attacks, and in severe cases, may become housebound. Approximately 2 to 4 percent of the people in America suffer from panic disorder.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
People who suffer from OCD become trapped in a pattern of repetitive thoughts and behaviors that are senseless and distressing but that are also extremely difficult to stop. If severe and left untreated, OCD can destroy a person's capacity to function at work, at school, or even in the home. OCD affects more than 2 percent of the country's population.
Scientists aren't quite sure why some people get an anxiety disorder and other people don't. Different people exposed to the same situation can react in very different ways. Part of this difference may be in the genes they have inherited.
Anxiety disorders run in families, so if a parent has an anxiety disorder, the children have a higher chance of developing one of these conditions. This may be due to the genes they've inherited, but the environment a child is raised in may be important, too. Ultimately, it's probably a combination between a person's genetic predisposition and environment.
Scientists have recently been gaining insights into the development of anxiety disorders. Children of parents with panic disorders have a higher incidence of behavioral disorders early in life, before you would think major environmental impacts would occur.
A growing body of evidence shows that infants who tend to be shy, timid, and constrained in social situations -- even in the first few weeks of life -- have higher rates of anxiety disorders when they get older.