Tuesday, September 30, 2014
When Anxiety Disorder Imitates Heart Disease
However, there is such a thing as an abnormal amount of anxiety. Psychiatrists have what they call "general anxiety disorder," among other things. Severe anxiety symptoms happen on more days than they don't. There are frequent signs of extreme nervousness or getting frantic even for no external reason. Such psychological condition can significantly impair one's quality of life.
Sometimes, a person's true condition can be difficult to determine. That is because, for instance, there could be little difference between having an "anxiety or panic attack" and a "heart attack." Once, I saw a person with a long clinical history of anxiety, fear, and panic attacks. She tried many medications and counseling sessions. Yet, there's no significant improvement. Only to find out that she had been suffering from abnormal heart rhythms caused by some type of heart disease.
Yes, anxiety disorder may imitate heart disease (or some other type of medical condition). So to rule out any medical or physical causation before you go into therapy and counseling, have a thorough physical examination first. Then, the psychotherapist would have enough information to assess at least two possibilities: did anxiety and panic cause physical disease or did the physical disease make the body develop anxiety and panic?