The Anxiety Disease Book Review

The Anxiety DiseaseBy age 24, having suffering from severe anxiety attacks since age 7, I was truly convinced that I was going slowly going crazy. I went to see a psychiatrist, Dr.Lewis, for the first time. He came recommended to me by my psychologist, who was very nice lady who tried to help me, but was ineffective. I was riddled with anxiety and having daily panic attacks at my new job.

Dr.Lewis listened to my story of my experiences from childhood and the suffering I encountered throughout my teen years. He was an older, soft-spoken man, and he calmly explained that I was suffering from panic disorder. He also said that I would be ok, and he would work with me.

This was the first time I had ever heard that what I had was a real live medical condition and, more importantly, I would be ok. I had never been told that in my life. Also, I had no idea what caused panic attacks or how to handle panic attacks.

To help me understand my condition and the cause, he recommended a book called The Anxiety Disease by David Sheehan, MD. Immediately after my appointment, I went to the bookstore and bought it. (There was no Amazon back then.)

I devoured this book in one reading. And then I read it again. Aside from college textbooks and a few random magazine articles describing anxiety attacks, I never read anything that didn’t scare the living crap out of me.

From textbooks, I was convinced I was headed for a straitjacket, which only served to keep me even more terrified and secretive about my panic episodes.

This was the first book resource I ever had (and I still have it today, over 20 years later) that accurately described what causes anxiety attacks, and how to handle panic attacks. I include a picture of my copy of the book above. I tried to show the book spine, so you can see the title. The cover fell off years ago. As you can see, this book has been well used 😉

I have many great book recommendations for those who suffer like I did with anxiety and panic attacks, but The Anxiety Disease: New Hope for the Millions Who Suffer from Anxiety, is the first book you want to read and keep as a resource.

The Anxiety Disease: New Hope for the Millions Who Suffer from Anxiety, by David Sheehan Review

The book gives detailed case stories of some of Dr. Sheehan’s patients. Most notably to me was Maria, a young girl whose life and progression of anxiety were strikingly similar to my own. It was so important that I identified with Maria, not only because we shared a history of suffering, but that I could see how she eventually got better.

In the book, Maria has a boyfriend Adam.  Adam tries to be supportive of Maria’s anxious feelings, but at the same time is frustrated. In the end, Maria is on the road to a panic free life and starts to outgrow her need to be dependent on Adam.

I had a boyfriend like Adam, who tried to be understanding of my hang ups and phobias. He tried to be patient and loving, but over time got very frustrated. Unlike Adam, who remained supportive in the long run, my boyfriend dumped me long before I was better. The story of Maria and Adam was helpful and had many parallels to my old relationship. In a sense, I felt like I was reading about me.

Is The Anxiety Disease a good pick for you?

Many women have their fist experience with severe anxiety and panic in their 20’s. Although I’d been suffering for many years  before that, I could relate to Maria’s age. That was hugely important for me at the time.

I read this book hundreds of times over the years. At age 24, it was my first resource book about panic disorder and how to handle panic attacks. And it was very relevant to a 24 year old’s life and experiences. It remains one of the most important books in my personal library.

At 190 pages, The Anxiety Disease is an easy read. It describes how anxiety is not just psychological but a disease that can be controlled. It gives a detailed yet clear explanation of what causes panic attacks (pages 75 – 97).

The book describes seven progressive stages of the disease-and the four steps necessary for recovery. Detailed case histories of former anxiety victims who are now leading full and productive lives. Reassurance and guidance to family members and friends who want to help, but don’t know how. This book offers new hope to millions of men and women across the country.

It is also great for new sufferers, to start out with the correct information, learn the stages of the disease, causes, and treatments. Ultimately you will get a much better head start on managing your anxiety than I did.

Can’t I just Google Anxiety and read what I can online?

Sometimes Googling your symptoms can make it worse. You might get lost in a forum thread or reading someone’s horror story and end up feeling even more freaked out. I don’t recommend it.

And as you can tell from the picture above – I prefer to do my reading offline. When I am studying and reading in depth about panic disorder, which is serious business for me — and I want to make notes, I would much rather have the book on my desk (or bed!) in front of me then lost somewhere on my hard drive or in my bookmarks.

One Downside to the book

The book was copyrighted in 1986. The information given about the anxiety disease is timeless, and is applicable to today. The medications discussed in Chapter 19 are outdated. This covers pages 118 to 127, which you can just skip right over.

That said, I feel the second part of the chapter, from page 127- 142, is still extremely valuable. On page 127 the importance of the educating the patient with regard to medications is discussed. The book goes on to discuss monitoring medications, the patient’s overall improvement, monitoring side effects, and monitoring anxiety attacks and symptoms while being treated. There is a strong emphasis on clear and effective communication between doctor and patient, which I highly endorse.

In Conclusion

The Anxiety Disease was the first book I ever read that accurately described what I was going through with my anxiety, what causes panic attacks, as well as useful information on how to handle panic attacks. Twenty years since I first purchased it, it remains one of the top 3 resourceThe Anxiety Disease: New Hope for the Millions Who Suffer from Anxiety books I continue to use for understanding my anxiety disease ( as Dr. Sheehan calls it), now called panic disorder. It will help you understand the suffering you are going through, as well as offer the hope of recovery. The recovery described in the book is real. In short, I highly recommend it.

This is the current version of the book, shown to the right also. Click through to purchase at

The Anxiety Disease: New Hope for the Millions Who Suffer from Anxiety, by David Sheehan, MD

I wish you peace,
Jill G.

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This entry was posted in Panic Attacks, Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Anxiety Disease Book Review

  1. Name mark says:

    Sounds like the book approaches panic disorders beyound simply medicating, excellent.

  2. Rick H says:

    I agree with Jill. When I was first introduced to the book in about 1990, I, too was amazed that I could see myself on each and every page. And, yes, it was a big help just to know that there was a name associated with what I had!! I wish I had bought the book a few weeks earlier because when I began seeing a psychiatrist (who had a copy of Dr Sheehan’s book on his shelf), he told me that Dr Sheehan had just given a seminar at Seeton Hospital (Austin) which was right across the street from my psychiatrist!! Anyway, I bought 7 copies of the book so my family and a select other group of people would understand what I have! I have passed my two copies around to many people and they all felt the same way as I did when I received my copies!

    I am still working on some little details of my anxiety but I am about 90% free (which is sad because I should be 100% free)!

    • JillG says:

      Rick, I don’t see that as sad at all. You should be shouting from the rooftops and jumping for joy!! PS- I made my Mom, Dad, sister and husband all read The Anxiety Disease. It does really explain anxiety and panic really well.

      I’m so happy for you!! Keep up the great work 🙂

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