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What is Panic Disorder?

It is estimated that between 2 and 3% of Americans encounter panic disorder in a given year. Additionally, although it can be present in both women and men, women are twice as likely to encounter such disorder.

What is Panic Disorder?

Panic Disorder can be classified as a type of anxiety disorder. People who suffer from such disorder have sudden panic attacks and often have a strong fear that lasts for several minutes, in some cases even hours. Such attacks may derive from the fear that a disaster may occur or from the fear of losing control on a situation even though there appears to be no danger. It is important to note that such attacks can begin to develop in late adolescence and early adulthood however, children are subject to developing such disorder as well. Additionally, just because you have panic attacks does not mean you have developed panic disorder. It is believed that 1 in 10 people in the United States have a panic attack each year while one third of people have one in their lifetime however, only about 3% of adults have developed such disorder.

Panic Disorder can be affecting your daily life in the sense that it may not allow you to go to work or school for example, because of the fear that a panic attack may happen, and you may then feel embarrassed.

What are the symptoms?

  • Sudden & repeated panic attacks (due to anxiety or fear)
  • A sense of lack of control
  • During the panic attack, an individual may experience physical symptoms such as a racing heart, sweating, chills, breathing problems, trembling, weakness, nausea or stomach pain for example
  • Avoid going to places where a panic attack has occurred in the past
  • Feel unreal or detached when experiencing a panic attack
  • Numbness or tingling in the body

How can it be treated?

  • First, talk to your doctor
  • Psychotherapy (Cognitive and Behavior Therapy), which teaches you different ways of thinking, reacting, and behaving
  • Medications

It is important to note that if you leave such disorder untreated, it may lead to agoraphobia (an intense fear of being outside).

What causes Panic Disorder?

There has not been true known factor as to what causes such disorder however, some of the research that has been conducted has revealed that it may be run in families. There has not been an establishment in the relationship among the disorder and the environmental factors however, it can also play a role. On the other hand, researchers have found that several parts of the brain along with the biological processes, can often play a role in both fear and anxiety.

What can I do to help myself?

  • Become an expert on what anxiety is. This will help you cope with it better while allowing you to have a better understanding as to what is happening to your body.
  • Learn the facts and difference between what its like to have Panic Disorder with or without Agoraphobia.