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Post-traumatic stress disorder: When fear strikes the heart
PTSD is linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, but experts are still untangling the connection.
Over the course of a lifetime, many people directly experience or witness harrowing events. These include serious car accidents, violent personal trauma (including sexual assault), natural or human-made disasters, and military combat. Life-threatening health conditions — such as a sudden cardiac arrest, a devastating stroke, or any illness that requires a prolonged stay in the ICU — can also leave people traumatized.
As many as one in five people with such histories experience short-term post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This debilitating mental health condition is characterized by recurrent, frightening episodes during which people relive the traumatic event. Some go on to develop long-term symptoms (see "Understanding PTSD"). Over all, about 8% of all people will develop PTSD during their lifetime, which may leave them vulnerable to other health problems.
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Anxiety and Stress Disorders
Everyone worries or gets scared sometimes. But if you feel extremely worried or afraid much of the time, or if you repeatedly feel panicky, you may have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental illnesses, affecting roughly 40 million American adults each year. This Special Health Report, Anxiety and Stress Disorders, discusses the latest and most effective treatment approaches, including cognitive behavioral therapies, psychotherapy, and medications. A special section delves into alternative treatments for anxiety, such as relaxation techniques, mindfulness meditation, and biofeedback.
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