glossary or defination of terms for anxiety and panic attack terms

Glossary or Defination of Terms for Anxiety and Panic Attack

Word List


I thought it would be useful to produce a glossary or defination of terms for anxiety and panic attack terms so you had a point of reference.  The below words are used in this eBook/Course.  You may think you know what the words mean, but please take the time to read the explanation of each word –

Affirmation a technique used to program the subconscious mind to effect change by repeating (or meditating on) a key phrase to bring about the desired outcome.

Agoraphobia occurs when overwhelming anxiety and avoidance behaviours cause a person to avoid open or public places and in extreme cases, become housebound.

Anxiety - A state of apprehension, uncertainty, and fear resulting from the anticipation of a realistic or fantasized threatening event or situation, often impairing physical and psychological functioning. It is often accompanied by restlessness, fatigue, problems in concentration, and muscular tension. Anxiety is not considered to be a normal reaction to a perceived stressor although many feel it occasionally. When anxiety becomes overwhelming and distressing to the sufferer, it may fall under the psychiatric diagnosis of anxiety disorder.

Systematic desensitization is a behavioural therapy technique for treating specific phobias such as social anxiety. During this treatment, the phobic person is asked to imagine the events that cause anxiety while engaging in a series of relaxation exercises. Over time, the person becomes desensitized to the anxiety-provoking event. After treatment, they will usually face the feared event with less anxiety. 

Sensitization is the opposite.   Sensitization is the process by which a person becomes, over time, increasingly fearful through repeated exposure to a place, object or person.

Dr Claire Weekes - (1903–1990) was an Australian general practitioner and health writer; she also had an early career as a research scientist working in the field of comparative reproduction. She continues to be noted for her books on dealing with anxiety problems along with nervous breakdown.  I thoroughly recommend her books and I wrote an article about her here.

Feeling/sensations/symptoms – I use these terms as the reactions you will feel when your body is anxious.  For example, increased heart rate and breathing, sweating, feeling faint, etc.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder — Constant, exaggerated worrisome thoughts and tension about everyday routine life events and activities, lasting at least six months.  Almost always anticipating the worst even though there is little reason to expect it — accompanied by physical symptoms such as fatigue, trembling, muscle tension, headache, or nausea.

Golden Rules – are the set of conditions you should follow in order to get well.  I call them rules as they should not be broken (i.e. follow the rules.) The Golden emphasizes there is success, happiness, or prosperity.  My program of recovery is based on The Golden Rules.

Morning anxiety is surprisingly common. It has no clinical definition, but most people define it as anxiety either immediately after waking up, or anxiety that tends to build over the first hour or so upon awakening.

Morning anxiety is incredibly stressful, because it tends to start your day off on a negative note. You'll have some days where morning anxiety fades as the day wears on, but often you'll find that when you start your day with anxiety, some type of stress or anxiety persists until you go to sleep.

NHS - If your reading this from another country (ie not the UK) you may not know what the NHS is.  It stands for the National Health Service.   The NHS provides free medical care and is paid for through taxes.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - Repeated, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repeated behaviours (compulsions) that feel impossible to stop or control. Repetitive behaviours (e.g. hand washing, counting, checking, or cleaning) are done in an effort to make obsessive thoughts go away.

Panic attack - A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause. Panic attacks can be very frightening. When panic attacks occur, you might think you're losing control, having a heart attack or even dying.

Many people have just one or two panic attacks in their lifetimes, and the problem goes away, perhaps when a stressful situation ends. But if you've had recurrent, unexpected panic attacks and spend long periods in constant fear of another attack, you may have a condition called panic disorder.

Panic attacks were once dismissed as nerves or stress, but they're now recognized as a real medical condition. Although panic attacks can significantly affect your quality of life, treatment can be very effective.

Panic Disorder - Repeated episodes of intense fear that strike often and without warning. Physical symptoms include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, abdominal distress, feelings of unreality, and fear of dying.

PMRProgressive Muscle Relaxation is a way of helping to reduce anxiety by tensing and then relaxing the muscles alternatively.  It was developed by an American Chicago based Physician in the 1920’s called Edmund Jacobson

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - Persistent symptoms that occur after a traumatic or terrifying event in which serious harm occurred or was threatened (e.g. rape or other criminal assault, war, child abuse, natural disasters or crashes). Nightmares, flashbacks, mind numbing of emotions, depression and feeling angry, irritable, distracted and being easily startled are common.

Social Phobia Extreme - self-consciousness and overwhelming fear of scrutiny, embarrassment, or humiliation in social situations, which leads to avoidance of many potentially pleasurable and meaningful activities.

Specific Phobias — Extreme, disabling, and irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger; the fear leads to avoidance of objects or situations and can cause people to limit their lives unnecessarily.

Stress - is a person's response to a stressor such as an environmental condition or a stimulus. Stress is a body's way to react to a challenge.  According to the stressful event, the body's way to respond to stress is by sympathetic nervous system activation which results in the fight-or-flight response. Stress typically describes a negative condition that can have an impact on a person's mental and physical well-being.

Note: If you find that your anxiety symptoms do not fit neatly into one of the descriptions you are not alone.  A large percentage of anxiety sufferers suffer from several types of anxiety at once (called Comorbidity)



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