The heart is racing, the hands are sweaty, the mouth is dry - everyone knows well situations in which he would prefer somewhere else. However, in some people, fear and panic attacks are so common and so profound that they interfere with everyday life. Often this is recognized late as illness.
Pathological fears are among the most common mental disorders; In Germany, an estimated 15 percent of the population are affected.
Causes of anxiety disorders
The genetic influence seems to be rather low in anxiety disorders, but more weight than risk factors have - especially in phobias - conditioning processes, ie fears as a result of negative experiences (for example, after a painful examination or teasing at school), but also by observation (for example, domestic violence, mother's spider anxiety) and stories. Presumably, this is also the reason that fears seem common family.
In recent times, the portrayals of fears in the media play an increasingly important role. Such "mediated" fears are not conditioned by their own concrete experience, are therefore not or only with difficulty verifiable and can additionally lead to the "fear of the fear".
If one asks the Germans today what they are particularly afraid of, the fears of becoming a nursing case or becoming incurably ill during old age or not having enough pension to live on are. We suffer from fear of the future, fear of terrorism and crime, fear of life-threatening environmental destruction. Such fears of anticipation can also be so pronounced that they affect everyday life in the present day.
Classification of anxiety disorders
The pathological mental anxiety disorders are classified into phobias, panic disorders and generalized anxiety disorders. In a broader sense, some specialists and classification systems also include obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as anxiety disorders.
Overall, women are more frequently affected (average in the ratio 2: 1). Not infrequently, sufferers simultaneously suffer from several anxiety disorders; They also have a higher risk of depression and addictions.