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On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  1,374 ratings  ·  226 reviews
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 agonize
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 16th 2017 by Crown Publishing Group (NY)
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Average rating 3.74  · 
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Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
One Edge: A Journey through Anxiety by Andrea Peterson 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
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
On Edge is partly a memoir and partly a very comprehensive research paper into anxiety disorders. Andrea Petersen, a health, psychology and neuroscience reporter for the Wall Street Journal, combines her own experience of living with anxiety with a deep dive into research that explores the disorder. As you would expect due to Ms Petersen's profession, the book is extremely well researched and well written. In fact, I think it deserves a place on the reading lists of any mental health courses out ...more
Erin Clemence
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Andrea Petersen is a well-educated, well-spoken woman who writes for the Wall Street Journal. She also has a relatively happy and healthy relationship with her husband, and their young daughter. Alternatively, though, she also has severe debilitating anxiety (in various forms, including panic disorder and hypochondria).
“On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety” is her real-life memoir, and it shines a very realistic view on anxiety disorders of all kinds. Not only does Petersen share her own experien
Stacey Camp
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant read. Review forthcoming.
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
“An anxiety disorder is a condition in which you experience frequent, powerful bouts of anxiety that interfere with your life” ~ ADAA

“On Edge” is reporter medical journalist Andrea Petersen’s powerful debut memoir of the challenges of dealing with cycles of severe crippling anxiety that alternated between periods of wellness and unpredictable episodes that led to shattering relapses. The book covers nearly three decades. Patients with a panic disorder wait on an average of 10 years before seeki
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was not a memoir of somebody's struggle with anxiety. This is the history of anxiety with small tidbits about the author's life. But regardless of the telling, this is an excellent story. Medical histories are amazing and to personalize one is even better. ...more
Christian D.  Orr
An invaluable contribution to the study of anxiety disorders

Speaking myself as someone with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (G.A.D.) and whose father was bipolar, I find the WSJ's Andrea Petersen's "On Edge" to be eminently readable, relatable, informative, and eye-opening. This book earns my highest recommendation.


--p. 1:" Fear ambushes me."

"University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, a bucolic campus of creaky A-frame houses
Let me start off by saying that this book was definitely not what I expected it would be. When I first read the book description, I had thought this would be a memoir of sorts, about a woman living with anxiety, how it manifests itself in her life and how she handles it, etc. with some factual information and research included as backup. While the author did indeed recount her personal journey through anxiety in the book, it unfortunately fell a bit short for me because too much of her story was ...more
Riva Sciuto
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: bios-memoirs
While I admire Andrea Petersen for writing such a brave and candid memoir about her lifelong battle with anxiety, I found it way too self-focused. Part memoir, part science, it doesn't fully succeed as either.

She weaves in her own experiences -- somewhat annoyingly -- with scientific research and historical accounts of anxiety as a diagnosed psychological illness. The latter portions were far more interesting (for me) than the former, particularly in her research on hyper-sensitive amygdalae in
Jess Clayton
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-netgalley
Finally! A mental health book that is more than just science and statistics. This is a personal memoir of a professional adult who has dealt with anxiety for most of her life and came out of it with an understanding of how to live with it. She is open and honest and very detailed about each stage of discovery. She does include the science as well, but it supports her stories, rather than hinders them.

Dealing with a parent with severe anxiety has been challenging and a lot of the time, I am cluel
Daria Zeoli
This book is part memoir, part research paper. I think that both parts are important, though I was drawn more to the author's personal story of anxiety and think that's where the strength of the book lies.

In today's world, it sometimes seems impossible not to live "on edge." The cited studies and statistics gave me a lot to think about as someone who has never been diagnosed with anxiety but wonders if she exhibits too many of the symptoms.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a review cop
Brittany Hargrave
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is for those who experience anxiety and those who want to better understand people who do (perhaps because they work in health care/mental health or because they love someone who experiences disordered anxiety).

Personally, I can’t think of another book that has made me feel as understood as this one has. Many of Petersen’s experiences mirror my own. Beyond how relatable she is, Petersen uses her book to report on the latest studies in anxiety research and treatment advancements. This b
Mack Hayden
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psych, memoir
As someone who also struggles with anxiety, this book was like hearing "it's okay" from a smarter, more experienced friend. I really loved the format—the personal anecdotes blend effortlessly with the psychological data Petersen breaks down. This really is a crash course in what anxiety is, how debilitating it can be, and what you can do to combat it. While there's plenty of great information presented here, the strongest balm for my own anxious brain in this book was Petersen's own story. One o ...more
Oct 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, dnf
DNF @ 50%.

I'm bored. Not what I was looking for in a memoir dealing with anxiety.
Teressa Morris
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What I appreciated most about On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety was Andrea Petersen's personal story about her own anxiety. Although we had vastly different upbringings, and even different experiences with anxiety, I couldn't help but feel a kinship with the author. After all, my own journey through anxiety is a big part of this blog (see Comfortable in My Own Skin).

My first impression as I was reading through the various causes of adult anxiety, was that poor Bud was doomed from a very young a
Aug 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
The book is actually a 4-5 star read, because it was very well written, meticulously researched, honest, etc. etc. blah, blah blah...but I am so biased against it that I struggled to read it without wanting to hurl it out the window.

When I was 30 years old, my mom died. I spent a lot of time crying, anxious, and depressed, grieving and distraught. Everyday tasks were difficult to do, at best. My Aunt suggested to me that I go to a doctor and get prescribed pills for my depression and/or anxiety.
May 01, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: mental-health
I’ve been reading a lot of fiction lately, and it’s been a little while since I’ve reviewed any psychology nonfiction. I was excited to read Andrea Petersen’s On Edge–it’s always so encouraging to hear success stories from people who have had similar battles with anxiety that I have had.

However, I was confused right away, because On Edge is supposed to be Andrea Petersen’s memoirs…and it is not that at all. But neither is it exactly an objective journalistic history of psychology.

On Edge smother
Apr 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs-tysm
You can also find this review on my book blog.

As always I’ll start the review by saying how I came upon this book: I was looking for more mental health memoirs/non-fiction to read and stumbled upon this book in the publishers catalogue. The very first thing that attracted me towards this book is the subject matter it deals with: anxiety. The reason why that interested me is because I, myself am an anxious person and have always been one. Anxiety before a test, check, Anxiety whilst going to
Stephanie Griffin
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
Reading this book made me anxious!
Jan 18, 2020 rated it liked it
It was a really dry book and I actually ended up skimming a lot. I am fascinated by this topic as I have anxiety myself but this book just didn’t interest me like others.
Feb 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018
3.5 Stars

I initially picked up this book because my husband just recently had a pretty severe panic attack on his way to work one morning. This caused him to miss the majority of work through the month of January this year. I, having never dealt with anxiety in my life, only depression, didn't understand this at all, even though I work in behavioral health and see anxiety every day at work.

Why could he no longer drive to work? Why could he drive to the grocery store but not his 30 minute commute
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
"If you met me, you probably wouldn't even notice my anxiety. When I began telling acquaintances the topic of this book, they almost uniformly said, 'I would never have guess you're anxious.'"

This may be one of the first book reviews I've written, mainly because I am very interested and passionate about this topic. One in three Americans will have an anxiety disorder at some point during their lives. There is currently no "cure."

Although I didn't find myself relating to the specific type of anx
Zach Koenig
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
As a person who suffers from above-average levels of anxiety (and sometimes significantly so), it is good for me from time to time to read about others' experiences in the same realm. Though "On Edge" went into more science than I would like to (or even can) understand, the majority of the content still resonated with me.

What Andrea Peterson does in this book is use her own personal experiences as kind of a jumping-off point for discussing anxiety through multiple different lenses. When Peterson
Leah K
Mar 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: library
First off, kudos to the author for putting it all out there and discussing her anxiety and other issues. It's not an easy thing to discuss, sometimes even with close friends, let alone a bunch of strangers. High five to Andrea Petersen.

My reason for the 3 star review? The format. I've read many books with a mix of scientific facts and history strewn into a memoir type books. Makes sense. Tell us your story and back it with science when applicable! But, usually this is cut more succinctly - one c
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
Peterson has significant anxiety disorder and "On Edge" chronicles her anxiety and explores the research around anxiety. She is a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, so the book is meticulously researched and although she reveals intimate details about her anxiety and hypochondria, there is a dispassionate nature to the work. I debated the "stars" and would give it between a 3-4, a 3.5. I care for patients who have anxiety, and her need to go to emergency rooms frequently/excessively clarified ...more
Warren Benton
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Petersen suffers from anxiety.  In college, she had panic attacks that shut her down.  She went home for a couple months and just tried to shut out the whole world.  Petersen gives us an inside look into what she was going through. Then she turns to her journalistic side and gives us the history of studying mental illnesses.  Starting with her grandmother,  Petersen explains how little was known of various mental illness back in the 1950's.  That the doctors of the time tended to lump all mental ...more
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was a giveaway winner of "On Edge A Journey Through Anxiety" Andrea Petersen gives a personal account on her struggle with Anxiety disorder. She is very honest about what she has been through over her life. In childhood, College, adult years. Different medications she has been on etc.
She gives studies of how mental anxieties have been dealt with medically, such as shock therapy, medications. I was not to happy to read about the experiments on animals researchers have done. This was pretty int
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I think I can safely conclude that I freaking love psychology books. First, last year, I really got into reading memoirs- stories about people's lives, where they tell us about everything they've been through and the lessons they have learned. Then, I started getting into psychology books that expand my understanding about mental illnesses and disorders, and preps me for my future career. Then, I found these types of books- a perfect combo of both! It's a psychological book, focused on anxiety, ...more
Fallon Campbell
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good look into the life of someone living with anxiety. Was a little triggering for someone with anxiety. Especially the part about panic attacks on an airplane... while I was on an airplane having a panic attack. Probably not the best idea on my end. I loved the science and research information through out the different topics.
Rachel Vivio
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is a great resource for those who want to better understand anxiety; I learned so much! The author did a commendable job of balancing out interesting personal stories with informative research studies and findings.
Sometimes, it read more like a newspaper article than a book, which was a little weird, but that makes sense since the author is a writer at the Wall Street Journal.
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