Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Anxiety Now, Anxiety Then

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly half of adults with a diagnosed anxiety disorder had symptoms of some type of mental health illness by the age of

Researchers also found that issues detected in childhood were clues as to what kinds of anxiety disorders one would develop later in life.

This research highlights the importance of early diagnosis and prevention.

And that different anxiety disorders may have different etiological roots.

Anxiety Disorders

According to NIMH, "Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress. It helps one deal with a tense situation in the office, study harder for an exam, keep focused on an important speech. In general, it helps one cope. But when anxiety becomes an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations, it has become a disabling disorder".

Five major types of anxiety disorders are:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Panic Disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Social Phobia (or Social Anxiety Disorder)

Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

If you think you have an anxiety disorder, the step in validating the diagnosis is to see your physician. A medical doctor will determine whether the anxious symptoms are due to an anxiety disorder, another medical condition, or both.

If an anxiety disorder is diagnosed, the next step is to see a mental health professional who has a specialty in dealing with anxiety disorders.

Research has shown that the combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy, behavioral therapy, or insight oriented psychodynamic therapy along with medication offers the best results.

These statistics definitely apply in my case. I had panic and depression as a kid and could feel its crescendo in my teens.




Patient Anonymous said...

I don't have an anxiety disorder per se but I'm growing more and more anxious because my link on your site is still pointing to my Blogger blog.

Can I be obnoxious and ask you to "fix me" again?

I'm sorry...

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear PA,
Corrected and updated.


Dreaming again said...

I started to protest this 15 I was just fine! (can we say DENIAL again?)

Nothing ... nothing but well over a year into anorexia ... a year past my step father's suicide and a few years past being *hurt* by someone who had no business touching me ...

but other than that 15 I was JUST FINE!!!!


(my treatment team has so much fun getting history out of me)

jumpinginpuddles said...

lol no denying anything here we get anxious and at the moment it is 24/7 lol but on the upside we have a T who knows ;)

Reiki 4 Life said...

yes I am certain most problems begin in childhood. I think one of the biggest problems is that adults don't even have good stress and anxiety coping skills (well, the ones I was around in my childhood certainly didn't!) so the kids are saddled with their parents, or extended family's issues and then not given any coping skills themselves which then spirals the anxiety or other issues out of control. I lived nearly my entire life (until the past year or so) in chronic PTSD...panic attacks, etc. I had absolutely no guidance or coping skills...other than escapism through I don't know. I guess perhaps the answer lies in parents getting their act together...and then passing the skills they've learned onto their children...or at least pointing them in the right direction.

very complicated, and very sad...especially when the cycles of addiction, abuse, mental disorders just keep perpetuating again and again.

on a good note, I am diggin' the new profile pic. Hot!

Have an awesome day dr. deb!!!!!!

Jade said...

Thats very interesting.I have a question after reading your post that I'm not too sure of.Is it possible for young children, let's say under the age of 8 to have an anxiety disorder? And if so how would that be treated?

Donna said...

I was self-medicating like crazy when I was 15. My parents didn't believe that any of their children would benefit from a mental health specialist, so I never got the help I needed until I was an adult. I'm still working on it!

Ian Lidster said...

I began suffering from severe panic attacks many years ago after a long-lasting viral infection. But, even after the virus had gone I had periodic episodes, especially when stuck in traffic or in a line-up at a bank, or something similar.
Over a decade ago I cut out alcohol and have never had one since. I also found when addictions counseling that the anxiety disorders of many clients would ease up.
Just some thoughts. I'll also check out the sites you've posted, Deb. Thanks yet again.


Nancy said...

I did not think I had an anxiety problem but when 9/11 hit I was paralyzed with fear. I saw my PC and she put me on Ativan for a while. I worked things out over time.
I developed a chronic neuralgia from a dental implant gone bad(infection, needed a bone graft etc), the doc finally found a combo of meds to control the chronic pain over my right eye brow (like an icecream head ache). I now take Klonipin 3 times a day and the pain is cut in 1/2 but I also noticed that I am able to talk in front of crowds and I am more confidant. A med with a double purpose for me.

Had the MRI last night...the disc re herniated..about 5-7% of the cases it happens to...Lucky me I go back to surgery next Tues. I am so glad I have my Klonipin...Talk about anxiety.

Heidi said...

Ohhhh..I have so much to say but I can't...I do want to say that I luv your new photo! You look great with the glasses!

Godwhacker said...

I've always been a Nervous Boy :)

ellesu said...

So interesting. Makes me want to kick myself (again) for not being informed enough to have insisted on more help for my first child when he was young.

I did take him to every mental health professional available (starting with social workers working up to psychiatrists), but they all said his high IQ would serve him well--get him by. ???

He has been estranged from us off and on for years now. At present he's calling home frequently. :) He told his dad last week that while he was growing up, everyone would tell him how smart he was yet he was scared to death of failing.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Dreaming,
This does apply to you, you are NOT one of those who had issues before age 15. Statistics takes into consideration that this trend does not apply to all.

Dear JIP,
Uh oh.

Dear Reiki,
Catching things early is a so important.

Dear Jade,
Oh yes....there are many anxiety disorders young ones can have! Separation anxiety and generalized anxiety just to name two.

Dear Donna,
Sad about that. But we know more now than back then.

Dear Ian,
Technology and research have exponentially raised the level of understanding of mental illness!

Dear Nancy,
I will be thinking of you on Tuesday. Sending you positive healing thoughts!

Dear Heidi,
How come you can;t?

Dear GW,
Love the song.

Dear Ellesu,
You can't cast blame on yourself.....we know more nowadays about mental illness than ever before. The "Ifs" "Woulda" Shoulda" and "Coulda" are never helpful. I think it is great that he can now express the pressure he felt. Maybe in time, more will unfold and a reconnection will occur.


DrWes said...

Great pic! Very cerebral indeed! ;)

STAG said...

I didn't know that ocd was considered an anxiety disorder.

(and "dreaming", there is one think I have learned from my fifty odd years is that when a woman, either fifteen or fifty says she is "fine", she is anything but.)

Raine said...

hmmm my daughter used to wake up in the middle up of the night when she was like 6 just positive there was a burglar climbing in her window- she would have every light in the house on and the TV blaring (we lived in a second story apt) age 15 severe depression with SI , 24 seems to be bi-polar with anxiety of course. There was a great deal of trauma in there too, but it is still very interesting

The Angry Medic said...

Woohoo...I actually recognise those names! (We learn them in Psych this year. See, I DO know stuff!)

Oh, and nice new pic, Dr Serani! Hubba hubba :)

Nella said...

Very interesting..

Rositta said...

Well, I'm certainly obsessive compulsive, no question about that. As for anxiety, I thought I had that pretty much under control after a 20 year real estate career but just now I'm anxious big time. Mostly over my Mom's deteriorating health from Congestive Heart Failure. She won't go to hospital or accept any medical intervention other than a couple of drugs. Makes me anxious as all get out. My gp recommended anti depressants for me but I'm also stubborn...oh what to do...ciao

Jade said...

Dr Deb, I dont think I asked my previous question correctly for the answer I wanted. Sorry about that, what I meant to ask was, how does one go about diagnosing a very young child? Can chemical imballances be diagnosed at such an early age? Are medications used at early ages? It just seems like the responses to your post, my own personal experience, and knowledge from my program that so many people are falling through the cracks when it comes to the treatment of their anxiety.Is this due to the fact that we are just now starting to understand anxiety, recognize its symptoms and how to effectively treat it? Just seems like many generations of nervous/anxious people have slipped through without proper treatment...(sorry for the long comment I'm just very interested in this)

Sunnie Dee said...

I always find it interesting to look at these sorts of things. Particularly when you look at two people who may have had exactly the same experiences but one will develop a mental health issue and the other won't

Sid said...

I'm definitely one of the ones that had symptoms of mental illness before the age of 15. I however don't see a link between that and the panic attacks that mysteriously developed at the age of 19 during one of the most stable and enjoyable periods in my life. Attacks that came only in the middle of the night and disappeared a year later as mysteriously as they started.

They reappeared about 4 years later after I'd had my daughter and again only ever struck in the middle of the night, waking me from a deep sleep and disappeared again about a year later as quickly as they started.

While I definitely had other mental illnesses, I was basically anxiety free after that for nearly 8 years. It's only been in the last 4 years that I've had significant impairment from generalized anxiety and panic attacks that now happen at all hours of the day or night.

This study is definitely interesting and has my curiousity buzzing. I'd love to read more about it and how it was conducted, but the NIMH article doesn't say much beyond what you've included here. I might have to bring this article in and discuss it with my therapist.

Love reading your blog. It always gets me thinking!

Dr. Deb said...

Dear Dr. Wes,
Thank you.

Dear Stag,
OCD *is* an anxiety disorder

Dear Raine,
She went through so much and continues to do so. Must be hard for you to witness such things.

Dear Angry,
I am honored that you find me, a plus-size gal, hubba-licious.

Dear Nella,
I thought so.

Dear Rositta,
Stress can make our fragile selves even moreso.

Dear JAde,
A thorough diagnostic test from a psychologist or psychiatrist can determine if a childhood anxiety disorder is presenting.

Dear Sunnie,
That is so true.

Dear Sid,
I wish there was more to the study too. I'll have to see if I can access it.


Brad said...

Dr Deb.

I stumbled onto your blog today and was pleasantly surprised to see this post. I've had anxiety related issues since I was a kid and they have gotten worse in the past year due to some work related stress. My parents didn't acknowledge anxiety related issues and both had pretty poor coping skills themselves so maybe I never learned how to manage my stress. (Not to blame anyone - they were both great parents in many other ways)

You mentioned coping skills. Where do you recommend I look for more information? I have four small kids and would love to give them the skills they need to deal with their lives. I'd like to use medication as a last resort and would be very willing to try other things first. Any suggestions?

Dr. Deb said...

Dear Brad,
I would suggest trying psychotherapy to help you with your anxiety issues and the ones that relate to your children. ?Finding a specialist who can help guide you is best. Other than that, I'd go to the nearest bookstore and ask the staff for the self help section. There are so many books that can give you a general idea of things.

Good luck

for_the_lonely said...

Hello Dr. Deb!
Its been a while, but I am glad to see that you are doing well! I love your new pic on here, too! :)

I was just on the NIMH site last night...I am SO glad that there is some sort of website out there that can promote awareness to anxiety and mental disorders like I have. Now if only I could get myself to a doctor... ;)

Hugs to you,

sjobs said...

I love the new look of your blog. I know it has been a while but life is crazy and I believe I may be going through a little bout of depression.

I do get anxiety attacks and looking back at my childhood I believe they happened back then when I was stressed about things.

It was nice to come back and your blog.


Cheesemeister said...

I was always a high strung and sensitive kid. I think the first clues that I was becoming bipolar came when I was about 10 years old but looking back it showed up in its full form when I hit puberty.
I have panic attacks which are pretty well controlled at this point. I can't tolerate tranquilizer drugs. They make me dopey, sometimes suicidal, and then when they wear off, they increase the anxiety. Me and most meds simply don't get along! Luckily I do tolerate lithium pretty well and a fairly low dose keeps things manageable most of the time.
I sure wish I could afford therapy to work on some of the bad programming that I have but I can't at this point. And I'm sorry to say, but county mental health SUCKS! They don't want to talk to people, just throw drugs at them. I'd rather deal with my doctor for that. He at least takes a few minutes to listen.

Dr. Deb said...

Dear Sarah,
I hope that you can find a doctor or one who would even do a house call. I know how hard it all is when anxiety surrounds you.

Dear Mary,
So happy to see you here. Sounds like this trend applies to you as well. I can recall vividly depression and panic as a young girl.

Dear Cheese,
I wish you could find a pro bono therapist who would work with you. LEt me know where you live and maybe I can find one for you.


Cheesemeister said...

Dr. Deb,
Please email me at
I'm reluctant to state where I live where everyone can read it.

Todd and in Charge said...

Very informative, thanks.

Jennifer Forbes said...

Great post. Over the last few months I have been thinking more an more about the development of my mental illness. I discovered that I was anxious as a child - quite often. Indeed, my mental illness made a spike at the age of 15. From then on, it came in waves with increasing severity. Definitely, early intervention is key!

Anonymous said...

Love the photo. Is it available for use? I have started a newsletter on psychology news items, and I'd love to use the pic.

OCD On A Stick said...

Great post! I was diagnosed with OCD in my late 20's, but showed symptoms in my early teens. It would have been wonderful to have addressed these issues earlier rather than later.