This site has been recognized by Mental Health Net and by psychiatrist, Dr. Robert Hamilton, expert in the anxiety, panic and depression that may accompany MVP Syndrome.
Anxiety and panic disorder are serious disorders that can dramatically affect your life and the lives of everyone around you. They can cause THE MOST debilitating of the symptoms associated with MVPS.
"There is no doubt that serotonin imbalances play a large part in the symptoms associated with Mitral Valve Prolapse Syndrome/Dysautonomia. In fact, I believe this is what separates the patients with MVP from the patients with MVP Syndrome." Robert Hamilton, M.D.
Anxiety disorders aren't just a case of "nerves." They are Illnesses, and there are several types of anxiety disorders, each with its own distinct features.
PANIC DISORDER Panic disorder is a fairly common psychiatric problem. It is probably the most frequently reported psychiatric syndrome associated with Mitral Valve Prolapse Syndrome.
Panic disorder is manifested by discrete periods of fear or discomfort, with associated physical and emotional symptoms. The actual panic attacks tend to be fairly short in duration, lasting typically no more than a few minutes. In most instances, these panic attacks seem to be unrelated to any specific stress; they seem to come "out of the blue." As the illness progresses, often individuals who have suffered an attack in a certain situation may tend to have an anticipatory fear of that situation. After they have developed this kind of anticipatory anxiety about a given situation, they may be at risk to have more attacks n that particular situation. As a result, the individual tends to avoid various situations in which they may have had panic attacks, and their world becomes more and more enclosed. When a person has experienced panic in so many social settings that they become homebound, they are experiencing agoraphobia.
Individuals with Mitral Valve Prolapse Syndrome seem to be at higher risk to develop panic disorder than the general population; however, not all individuals with MVP will develop panic disorder. It is when an individual does develop this disorder that referral to a psychiatrist is sometimes in order. It is extremely important to understand that this does not mean it is being suggested that a person's problems are "all in their head." Panic disorder is a very real illness and is not imaginary or self-induced. It is based on biochemical changes and abnormalities in the person's body, and as such, medications are frequently necessary to adequately treat it.
"Panic disorder is a very common illness; particularly in the patients with MVPS. Although it can be extremely debilitating, particularly as it progresses and becomes severe, it is quite treatable and can be interrupted in its early stages with affective treatment." Robert Hamilton, M.D.
GENERAL ANXIETY DISORDER (GAD) Having GAD means always anticipating disaster, often worrying excessively about health, money, family, or work. Worries are often accompanied by physical symptoms like trembling, muscle tension, nausea, twitching, headaches, sweating, or hot flashes. You may also feel lightheaded or out of breath. Or you may feel as though you have a lump in your throat. People with GAD can't seem to shake their concerns, even though they usually realize that their anxiety is more intense than a situation warrants. People with GAD also seem unable to relax. They often have trouble falling or staying asleep and startle more easily than other people. They may also suffer from depression. PHOBIAS Phobias occur in several forms. A specific phobia is a fear of a particular object or situation. Social phobia is a fear of being painfully embarrassed in a social setting. And agoraphobia, which often accompanies panic disorder, is a fear of being in any situation that might provoke a panic attack, or where escape might be difficult if one occurred. Phobias aren't just extreme fear; they are irrational fear. You may be able to ski the world's tallest mountain with ease but feel panic going above the 10th floor of an office building.
If the object of this fear is easy to avoid, people with a phobia may not find the need to seek treatment. Sometimes they may decide to avoid a phobic situation altogether. SOCIAL PHOBIA Social phobia is an intense fear of becoming humiliated in social situations, specifically of embarrassing yourself in front of people. It often runs in families and may be accompanied by depression or alcoholism.
If you suffer from social phobia, you tend to think that other people are very competent in public and that you are not. Small mistakes you make may seem more exaggerated to you than they really are. You may be afraid to be with people other than those closest to you. Sometimes social phobia involves a general fear of social situations such as parties. More rarely it may involve a fear of using public restrooms, eating out, talking on the phone, or writing in the presence of other people, such as signing a check.
Although this disorder often is thought of as shyness, the two are not the same. Shy people can be very uneasy around others, but they don't experience the extreme anxiety in anticipating a social setting, and they don't necessarily avoid circumstances that make them feel self-conscious. Social phobia disrupts normal life, interfering with careers and social relationships.
If you suffer from any of the above disorders, please seek the appropriate medical treatment. There are many treatments, depending on the individual. Patients suffering from any of the anxiety disorders are often very frightened of medication, fearing that the medications will cause horrible side effects. Sometimes counseling is needed to help these patients change their "irrational thinking." Beta-blockers, antidepressants, and benzodiazepines are probably the most effective. Other choices are cognitive and behavioral therapy and biofeedback. Most medical professionals believe that therapy, combined with medication, is the most effective. The symptoms of anxiety, panic attacks, and panic disorder are very real. They have nothing to do with being weak, either of character or mind. They are biochemical and genetic.
Order a DVD or VHS taken at one of our support group meetings, featuring guest speaker, Joseph Fanelli, M.D., Psychiatrist, about anxiety, panic disorder, and phobias.