Woven into Petersen’s personal story is a fascinating look at the biology of anxiety and the groundbreaking research that might lead to new treatments. She compares psychoactive drugs to non-drug treatments and she explores the role that genetics and the environment play in mental illness, visiting top neuroscientists and tracing her family history—from her grandmother, who, plagued by paranoia, once tried to burn down her own house, to her young daughter, in whom Petersen sees shades of herself.
The Bottom Line
Anxiety can seem overwhelming, but it is not insurmountable. Petersen shares therapeutic interventions, relevant scientific research and her own coping strategies for how to manage anxiety disorders.
Andrea Peterson, a contributing writer for the Wall Street Journal, has been gathering material for her book most of her life. She was first diagnosed with anxiety disorder in her 20s but came to understand that she’d been suffering from panic attacks since childhood.
While the diagnosis was difficult to swallow, it led Petersen down the path to investigating anxiety and accepting the fact that she’s far from alone. In fact, the author notes that a third of Americans age 13 and older have at least one type of anxiety disorder.
She was initially reluctant to come forward about her mental illness, worried about the impact on her professional life. But as her job entailing writing about college mental health, she realized she needed to do her part to chip away at the stigma that attaches to extreme anxiety — while offering insight and hope to others in its grip.
On Edge interweaves Petersen’s personal journey to manage her disorder with research on medications and nondrug therapies, how to deal with anxiety at work and in relationships, the role of genetics, and other information to empower others living with anxiety.
II. What We Do and Don’t Know About the Anxiety Timeline
III. Genes Matter
IV. Nondrug Treatments
V. Medicating Anxiety Is Complicated
VI. Anxious + Pregnant = Tough Choices
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