A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

On Edge: A Journey through Anxiety by Andrea Petersen- Feature and Review


A celebrated science and health reporter offers a wry, bracingly honest account of living with anxiety

A racing heart. Difficulty breathing. Overwhelming dread. Andrea Petersen was first diagnosed with an anxiety disorder at the age of twenty, but she later realized that she had been experiencing panic attacks since childhood. With time her symptoms multiplied. She agonized over every odd physical sensation. She developed fears of driving on highways, going to movie theaters, even licking envelopes. Although having a name for her condition was an enormous relief, it was only the beginning of a journey to understand and master it—one that took her from psychiatrists’ offices to yoga retreats to the Appalachian Trail.

Woven into Petersen’s personal story is a fascinating look at the biology of anxiety and the groundbreaking research that might point the way to new treatments. She compares psychoactive drugs to non-drug treatments, including biofeedback and exposure therapy. 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. 

Brave and empowering, this is essential reading for anyone who knows what it means to live on edge.




  On Edge: A Journey Through AnxietyOn Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety by Andrea Petersen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One Edge: A Journey through Anxiety by Andrea Petersen is a 2017 Crown publication.

As a long -time sufferer from panic/anxiety disorder, this book truly resonated with me.
This book chronicles the author’s own personal journey with the disorder, but also offers some insight into why people develop anxiety, including a look at her family history and genetics.

Most of the key areas one might expect are covered here, such as treatment, types of anxiety, phobias, isolation, predisposition, symptoms and most importantly, how to cope and live with the disorder without completely withdrawing from the world.

Her personal story is mixed in with medical and scientific facts and research, some of which sailed over my head, although I am interested in the results, it was mind numbing in a few places and I zoned out.

But, for the most part, I understood where the author was coming from and my own behavior mimicked hers on many occasions.

Her story is frank, honest, and practical, and I took inspiration from her as she fights daily with this debilitating disorder and mostly wins out in the end. Fear is the main theme and I completely agree. The anticipation of anxiety is the most difficult part to gain control of.

Overall, I think this is an insightful, knowledgeable look at living with anxiety, that anyone who has been diagnosed with the malady will relate to, sympathize with and learn from. Not only that, if you have a friend or a family member with an anxiety disorder, this book will give you valuable insight and information so you can understand how better to support them.

There is no cure for anxiety, but this book does offer understanding and advice, along with the hope of a medical or scientific breakthrough someday, for future generations. In the meantime, fighting fear and anxiety is a battle we must fight daily with a determination to keep it from affecting or diminishing our quality of life.





ANDREA PETERSEN is a contributing writer at the Wall Street Journal, where she reports on psychology, health, and neuroscience. She is the recipient of a Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism and lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and daughter.

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