Pistorius Trial Temporarily Halted Over Anxiety Diagnosis For Blade Runner – Abc News

Symptoms of panic disorder Many people who suffer from panic disorder use similar phrases when describing an incident it feels as if you are out of control and having a heart attack. Other physical signs include profuse sweating, heavy or labored breathing, pounding or racing heart that can cause chest pain, weakness or dizziness, numbness or tingling in the hands or other extremities, a feeling hot or a cold chill, tingly or numb hands and stomach pain. While some people can identify their triggers for a panic attack, they often come on suddenly. One of the biggest sources of panic is the fear of having another attack. Connection to addiction Drugs and alcohol are often used by those with panic disorder as a way to calming themselves or numb their fear of a looming attack.A study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that 10 percent to 20 percent of individuals with panic disorder struggle with substance abuse and that alcoholism occurs in 10 percent to 40 percent of those who have panic disorder. However, since alcohol and drug abuse can trigger panic attacks, this attempt at self-medication often exacerbates the problem. The symptoms of panic disorder often precede substance abuse or alcoholism. Treatment While some people with very limited triggers can manage to avoid certain situations, those with frequent, full-fledged panic attacks can become very disabled by their condition. [ Related: To Stave Off Panic, Don’t Take a Deep Breath ] Sufferers can generally receive successful treatment before they start to avoid places or situations where panic attacks have occurred. Unchecked, panic disorder can be disabling and evolve into agoraphobia the sufferer prefers to remain housebound or only goes out on a limited basis with a small circle of trusted people. Early treatment can often prevent panic disorder from developing into agoraphobia, but it can sometimes be a tough condition to diagnose. However, once a diagnosis is in place, it is one of the most treatable of all of the anxiety disorders.
Full story: Panic Disorder: Causes & Treatment for Panic Attacks | LiveScience

A sudden fear grips you, and you begin to feel strange physical symptoms and sensations of doom and worry. Is this a panic attack? Sudden, overwhelming fear: That’s panic in a nutshell. You may have felt that kind of sudden, overwhelming fear in terrifying situations – like when you’re forced to slam on the brakes to narrowly miss a car speeding through a red light or when a large dog lunges at you with teeth bared. But a panic attack can happen at moments that have nothing to do with terror – like in the midst of a deep sleep or a dull meeting or while in a class or stuck in traffic or in line at the grocery store. And you don’t have to have a diagnosed panic disorder to experience a panic attack. Panic attacks come on suddenly and unpredictably, and often peak after about 10 to 20 minutes mark. An attack may include several or many of the following symptoms: a sudden feeling of impending doom or death a feeling like you need to escape from where you are a fear of losing control or “going crazy” a feeling of unreality or like you’re detached from yourself rapid heart rate, chest pain, or discomfort sweating, chills, or hot flashes shortness of breath tightness in your throat or trouble swallowing numbness or tingling sensations
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Causes GAD affects about 6.8 million American adults, striking twice as many women as men. That translates to about 3.1 percent of the population suffering with the disorder, and about one third of those cases can be classified as severe. There is believed to be a connection to family history, although like with all mental health issues, it is typically a combination of biological and environmental factors. An imbalance of naturally occurring brain chemicals, such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, are often seen in people with GAD and could be an indicator of a propensity to develop the disorder. An imbalance of these chemicals, called neurotransmitters, can impact emotional stability and mental well-being. [ Related: Nervous System: Facts, Function & Diseases ] Enduring a trauma, especially during childhood, can have a link to GAD. Those who experienced abuse or trauma, including witnessing a traumatic event, as a child are at higher risk of developing generalized anxiety disorder. Connection to addiction Many GAD sufferers will use alcohol, tranquilizers or other drugs to calm their nerves and provide them some relief. The fact that so few people with GAD receive treatment suggests that many are self-medicating.
More: Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment | LiveScience

Daniel Born/AP Photo Copy Another complication has temporarily halted the Oscar Pistorius trial, after the trial judge ordered Pistorius be sent for a mental health screening. The order was given after Dr. Merryll Vorster testified for the defense and said that Pistorius has general anxiety disorder, a psychiatric condition that could make the athlete more likely to fight a threatening situation than flee it. Get the Latest News on the Oscar Pistorius Murder Trial But experts say Pistorius will have to undergo extensive testing to be diagnosed with the condition. Youre looking for things that would supercharge that nervous system and leave it more vulnerable, said George Everly, associate professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. You can have chronic exposure or traumatic event — either one works. Everly said some people with the disorder have a genetic history or have experienced traumatic events that make them hyper-sensitive to perceived threats. In severe cases, people can feel so afraid that they want to protect themselves in seemingly overzealous ways, he said, from installing extra security alarms to amassing weapons. Think of a lightning bolt going through electric currents [of the brain], he said. The result is a sensitization you get a sense of a person walking around, theyre hyper-sensitive to everything. Everything is magnified, specific fears are magnified. Everly said experts testing Pistorius will look for a family history of the anxiety disorder as well as exposure to trauma or anxiety-inducing events before forming a diagnosis. For a person with severe general anxiety disorder, Everly said it’s certainly plausible that they acted irrationally because they were so fearful of perceived threats. If generalized anxiety disorder is to be used effectively [in the trial], it must demonstrate that it created a potential for a biological hyper-sensitivity,” he said, “or lead to a learned pattern of physical and psychological overreaction.” Without proof of that biological hyper-sensitivity, Everly said the Pistorius defense team may be sitting there in the water without a paddle.
More: Pistorius Trial Temporarily Halted Over Anxiety Diagnosis for Blade Runner – ABC News

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