Panic Disorder Guide: Rebuild your sense of control after trauma


No one exactly knows when, how and why some people suffer from panic attacks. Panic disorder is known to run in families and there may be a genetic component to etiology of this disorder.

Symptoms

People suffering from panic disorder may develop some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Feeling of loss of control during a panic attack
  • Overwhelming anxiety of an impending panic attack
  • Avoid or fear places that trigger panic attacks
  • Racing or pounding heart
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Shakes and sweats
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Numbness or tingling sensation
  • Chest/stomach pain
  • Feeling of choking
  • Feelings of derealization or depersonalization

People who are at risk

In America, 6 million people suffer from panic disorder. It is twice as likely to be found in women as men. Symptoms of panic disorder begin to show-up from late adolescence to early adulthood. Every child that suffers panic attacks wouldn’t necessarily develop panic disorder later on in life. A lot of people suffer just one panic attack and never have another one.

Diagnosis

It’s important that people who’ve suffered severe panic attacks repeatedly may become disabled due to their condition should seek immediate medical attention. This will help them to prevent avoiding places or situations where they’ve experienced the panic attacks.

For instance if a person experiences a panic attack in an elevator, being in an elevator may become a trigger and this person may develop a fear of elevators for the rest of their life. This fear could influence a person’s choice of getting a job or buying an apartment, and even stop him from asking for medical help or enjoy his life.

Many other psychiatric symptoms like drug abuse, alcoholism or depression can accompany panic disorder. Due to their distinct characteristics, these psychiatric symptoms require separate medical attention.

Treatments

  • Psychotherapy – A type of psychotherapy called cognitive behavior therapy is especially useful for treating panic disorder. It teaches a person different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to situations that help him or her feel less anxious and fearful.
  • Medication – Doctors also may prescribe medication to help treat panic disorder. The most commonly prescribed medications for panic disorder are anti-anxiety and antidepressants. Anti-anxiety medications tend to suppress panic attacks when they happen and generally should not be taken for long periods of time. Antidepressants tend to prevent panic attacks from occurring and lower the baseline anxiety that is felt from fear of having another attack.

Antidepressants are often safe and effective. Anyone taking antidepressants should be monitored when they start treatment with these medications.

Learn more about

  • Loneliness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Insomnia
  • Relationship problems