A RECENT view is that some people have a type of fear of the phobic type but get repeated attacks of panic.
The extreme fear or panic is usually of dying, getting a heart attack or other serious threat to life itself.
The person may be driving a car and suddenly becomes panicky that he is going to die.
He may stop the car suddenly and rush for help and be rushed to hospital only to find there is nothing wrong with his heart.
Often panic attacks also start due to emotional difficulty in expressing deep emotional feelings and recent emotional stresses.
The treatment for panic attack is to overcome the psychological problem is possible and treat with Alphrazolam, a type of anxiety reducing medicine.
The excess worry over physical symptoms and possible illness even when it is proven there is none it is called hypochondriasis. Patients with hypochondriasis may complain of headache and worry about a cancer of the brain, of stomach ache and worry about a stomach ulcer, pass urine often and often worry if they have kidney stones or have palpitation and worry about having heart attacks.
No amount of proof or reassurance that “nothing is wrong” helps them. Often there is anxiety over some emotional problem that they are unable to overcome.
By concentrating on their physical illness, they often tend to feel that there is no psychological problem.
Often people with hypochondrical illness tend to shop around from doctor to doctor and keep coming to doctors with the same complaint despite assurances.
They often end spending a great deal of money on treatments and investigations and more opinions.
The treatment of hypochondriasis is to try and overcome the emotional problems that are the source of the physical complaint and treatment with anxiety reducing and anti-depressant medicines.
Among the commonest phobias is ‘agoraphobia’ a fear of being in an open space alone, driving alone or being alone in a crowded place.
Agoraphobia occurs in women more than in men and is sometimes called the ‘house bound housewife’ syndrome or disease.
This is because the woman usually a housewife has a phobia of going out alone and remains in the house.
There may be emotional problems related to difficulty in expressing feelings to others especially the husband.
The woman becomes very dependent on her husband.
The main problem is that the excessive fear of leaving the house that produces giddiness and palpitation that cannot be overcome by persuasion or reasoning.
The treatment of phobias is by use of some medicines-anxiety reducing medicines and sadness reducing medicines and change of the behavior modifying treatment.
Dr Uma Ambihaipahar is the Principal Advisor- Social Change & Mental Health Consultant Psychiatrist. For more information call: 301 3694/301 3832/301 3787.