It was nearly twenty years ago when I experienced my first panic attack. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders labeled my symptoms “anxiety neurosis.” This neurosis was believed to be caused by unconscious desires that were subjugated by an overly active super ego. My psychotherapist maintained that my symptoms were a manifestation of birth trauma which, for some inexplicable reason, were being triggered and causing me to feel anxious. When he could not help me, I was left on my own with a dearth of information on the subject and no resources for support.
Fortunately, a great deal has changed since then. The National Institute of Mental Health has labeled anxiety the Nation’s Number One mental health problem in the nation! There has been an explosion of research into the biological etiology of anxiety disorders. The 1990′s have been declared and exemplified as the “Age of Anxiety” as greater numbers of individuals acknowledge and recognize the existence of anxiety in their lives.
Additionally, with the development of more sophisticated medications to manage anxiety, a revolution of sorts has been gaining momentum. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are prescribed antidepressant medication every day as these medications are now considered the first line of defense to combat symptoms of anxiety. They are, indeed, very impressive. But what if you are one of the thirty-five percent of the population who does not improve with medication or you found that the effectiveness wore off over time? Perhaps you are one of eighty-six percent of individuals presenting with anxiety or depression that has a medical problem which has been overlooked by your physician. Instead of proper diagnosis and treatment of your medical symptoms, you may have been prescribed tranquilizers and/or antidepressants prematurely. Some of these may even be contraindicated for your particular medical condition. Perhaps you are healthy and the medication manages your anxiety quite well, but you were informed by your doctor that you may need to remain on medication perhaps indefinitely. You feel uncomfortable with this, or, you may simply be frustrated having to choose between accepting the side effects of some medications or being anxious. Despite what you may have read, heard, or been told by a physician or psychiatrist, overcoming anxiety is not an either/or proposition. You do not have to take medication to get better. This book was written to offer you choices. It does not attempt to persuade or dissuade you from taking drugs. Rather, it provides proven methods which are effective with or without the use of medication.
You will learn about the different medical conditions that mimic anxiety symptoms, how to assess your own anxiety, the benefits of both medication and alternative medicine, and specific tools and techniques that you can use to ameliorate you symptoms. Each person is different and no particular solution is appropriate for everyone. It is my intent to provide you with as much information as possible to assist you in making well-informed decisions about your own treatment.
ANXIETY IS A TREATABLE DISEASE. YOUR COMMITMENT TO RECOVERY WILL GIVE YOU THE PATIENCE, DETERMINATION, AND SELF-CARING TO PRACTICE THE TECHNIQUES THAT WILL MEET YOUR GOAL OF SUCCESSFUL LIVING !
Dr. Lynne Freeman, Director
OPEN DOORS INSTITUTE
Los Angeles, California
Note: The reader will notice that the terms “client” and “patient” are used interchangeably, as are the use of personal pronouns, he, she and he/she.