Welcome to the Anxiety-Panic History web site. This site features a collection of historical notes from a variety of sources. These notes are arranged chronologically (order of historical occurrence) in an effort to display the changing and evolving perspectives of anxiety and anxiety disorders throughout the ages.
The shaded menu to the left features starting dates for various periods. Each page presents events up to the next starting date. Altogether, these pages form a continuous chronology (time ordered series of events). Since recorded events are less frequent further back in history, earlier periods are less detailed than more recent periods.
Within each period, some dates are preceded by "c." (an abbreviation for "circa"). Circa is historical lingo meaning "about" or "roughly"; in other words, a date that is not precise. Notes quoted directly from literary sources feature a numbered link to our references page for proper credit.
Comment, critique, feedback and questions are always welcome. Please feel free to send an e-mail at any time.
Anxiety and anxiety disorders have existed long before recorded history. In fact, anxiety is not unique to human beings and is often considered in the context of comparative biology. Nonetheless, human anxiety certainly seems the most complex and is certainly the most important to people.
The earliest interpretations of anxiety disorders appear to be mostly spiritual. To a notable degree, early spiritual treatments bare some intriguing resemblance to modern psychotherapies. Likewise, the ancient preparation and use of natural substances have surprising similarities to modern pharmaceuticals. Medical interpretations of anxiety disorders are not entirely new either and reach as far back as classical Greek civilization. All these fundamental perspectives are not new, but they have been greatly refined over many centuries.
Anxiety and anxiety disorders have played substantial roles in human history. Such roles are most prominent in times of hardship, war or social change. In more pleasant times, however, societies tend to embrace the illusion that anxiety is a minor issue which deserves little attention or respect and is easily ignored. Frequent disinterest in the fundamental nature of anxiety has often left societies ill-prepared for unforeseen challenges.
Some of this web site's content was originally featured as an historical appendix in early versions of the ASAP Dictionary of Anxiety and Panic Disorders; dating back to 1996. Development of contemporary aspects of the ASAP Dictionary was wonderfully supported by many people. However, the "chronology" (historical section) received little attention and was mainly a product of my own interest in the history of anxiety disorders. When developing revised versions of the ASAP Dictionary, I felt the historical issues would be better addressed in an independent web site with a clear focus on history. Consequently, this Anxiety-Panic History site was launched on August 2, 2002, and has been growing ever since.