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Quiz helps dispel myths about panic disorders

By DR. JOYCE BROTHERS
SYNDICATED COLUMNIST

- courtesy SEATTLEPI.com

 

Many people get nervous or feel anxious during unfamiliar situations or novel experiences. Some people, however, are struck with such irrational fears during daily life that their panic becomes debilitating. This true or false quiz helps you test your knowledge about the symptoms, causes and treatments of these common disorders.

1. Most experts agree that about 10 percent of people suffer from panic disorder.

TRUE ( ) FALSE ( )

2. Agoraphobia, or an intense fear of public places, is a disorder that can commonly occur along with panic attacks.

TRUE ( ) FALSE ( )

3. Oftentimes, a panic attack can be triggered by a person's physical symptoms, such as heartburn or a headache.

TRUE ( ) FALSE ( )

4. Medication is considered the best way to treat panic disorders.

TRUE ( ) FALSE ( )

5. Physical symptoms of panic disorder can include nausea and vomiting, chills or sweats, feeling of choking or shortness of breath, fainting, trembling and numbness or tingling sensations.

TRUE ( ) FALSE ( )

6. There is only one type of anxiety disorder, and it has similar symptoms in all people.

FALSE ( ) FALSE ( )

7. People with severe social phobia may fear being judged or watched by others so much that any interaction with another person can cause them to experience debilitating broad physical and psychological symptoms.

TRUE ( ) FALSE ( )

8. Anxiety disorders can be present from an early age or can begin suddenly. They are most prone to appear during times of high stress.

TRUE ( ) FALSE ( )

ANSWERS:

1. FALSE. Most studies have found that 1 percent to 2 percent of people suffer from panic disorders. The Public Health Agency of Canada estimates that about 0.7 percent of Canadians between ages 15 and 64 suffer from panic. While many people have experienced panic attacks in their lives, panic disorders leave people in constant fear that an attack will strike again at any moment.

2. TRUE. Agoraphobia stems from a fear of being unable to escape to a safe location during a panic attack. Agoraphobics tend to try to avoid the situations that they think may have initiated the panic attack, and thereby close themselves off to new or unusual experiences as well as public locations.

3. TRUE. It is hard for those suffering from panic disorders to recognize the physical triggers that can set off attacks. Instead they associate the attack with the activity they were doing or the location where they were when the attack struck. This can lead them to avoid these circumstances.

4. FALSE. Cognitive behavioral therapy is thought by most in the field to be the most effective treatment for panic disorders. This method encourages those suffering from panic attacks to expose themselves to different experiences in a safe environment. Patients are taught to control their thoughts and actions during panic attacks. SSRI medications can be helpful in certain circumstances, but taking a pill that has short-term anti-anxiety effects every time a panic attack strikes can be counterproductive.

5. TRUE. All of these symptoms can be felt during panic attacks, either alone or in combinations. The physical symptoms go along with the emotional and mental symptoms usually associated with feelings of panic, such as nervousness and fear.

6. FALSE. There are five major types of anxiety disorders: generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive- compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and social phobia. All five of these exhibit slightly different symptoms, and are brought about in different settings.

7. TRUE. Because this disorder can strike anytime a person is in a social setting, it can severely interfere with work, school and other necessary daily activities. This can lead to more extreme forms of the disorder, including agoraphobia.

8. TRUE. Anxiety disorder can be chronic. A family history of mental distress or trouble dealing with anxiety can be signs that you may have an anxiety disorder. Additionally, stress can bring out physical and emotional symptoms usually associated with panic attacks.

If you were able to answer six of the eight questions correctly, you're more informed than most on this subject.

 
 
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