Panic disorder is a serious condition that affects about one in 75 people. It typically shows up in teens or early adulthood. What causes panic disorder is unclear but there seems to be a connection with major life transitions such as: graduating, having a child, getting married, etc. It might also be genetic. You have an increased risk of suffering from panic disorders if a family member has also suffered from them.
People who sufferer from panic disorder generally have a series of intense episodes of extreme anxiety or panic attacks. The attacks can last several minutes or several hours. Intensity and specific symptoms of panic might be different. A lot of people that have panic disorder also have agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is the fear of experiencing a difficult or embarrassing situation.
A panic attack is a sudden surge of overwhelming fear that comes without warning and without any obvious reason. Symptoms of a panic attack are: racing heartbeat, difficulty breathing, terror that is almost paralyzing, dizziness, nausea, trembling, shaking, sweating, choking, chest pains, tingling sensations, hot flashes or sudden chills, or fear that you’re going crazy or losing control, fear of dying.
Panic attacks occur in seemingly harmless situations and they can even happen in your sleep. A panic attack is marked by these conditions: it occurs suddenly, without any warning and without any way to stop it. The level of fear is way out of proportion to the actual situation. It passes in a few minutes; the body cannot sustain the ‘fight or flight’ response for longer than that. However, repeated attacks can continue to recur for hours.
Panic attacks often lead to other complications like phobias, depression, substance abuse, medical complications, or even suicide. Attacks can be as mild as word or social impairment to the total inability to face the outside world. Phobias are generally the fear of having another attack. Some people will avoid certain situations from fear that it will trigger another attack.
See a psychiatrist to get properly diagnosed for panic disorder. Treatment for panic disorder includes medication and psychotherapy called cognitive-behavioral therapy. Medications that can be prescribed are antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs. Having an episode to the phobia may trigger multiple times without a resulting panic attack, because of medication, can often break the phobia-panic pattern. Some improvement might be noticeable in a short period of time often about 6 to 8 weeks.
If you or someone you know has shown sign of panic disorder it is recommended to seek help. Panic disorder can have a profound impact on your life if you do not seek help. Nobody wants to be afraid to go see the outside world.