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A to Z Of PANIC: Everything you need to know about Panic Disorder

03 May 2016

Ever had that feeling when you felt an overwhelming anxiety and fear? Your heart pounded really fast and you were unable to breathe? You were sure it was a heart attack and called the doctor. But he told you it was just a scare and there wasn’t any symptom of heart attack. You just had a Panic Attack.

Panic disorder is a condition that afflicts one in 75 people. It is different from fear and anxiety to stressful events. It strikes without reasons or warning. The fear is out of proportion to the situation. The symptoms include sudden attacks of fear and nervousness as well as physical symptoms of increased heartbeat, sweating, nausea etc. These come on quickly and last about 10minutes.

Symptoms of Panic Disorder

·         Pounding heart

·         Difficulty breathing

·         Feeling of dread

·         Trembling

·         Nausea

·         Sweating

·         Chills or hot flashes

·         Numbness

·         Fear that you are about to die

Beyond the panic attack itself, there is a fear of having future panic attacks. These make an individual avoid places and situations where an attack has previously occurred or where he/she believes an attack may occur.

Causes of Panic Disorder

Panic disorder does seem to be connected to major life transitions that are stressful like getting married, having a first child etc. Genetic predisposition is also seen with more chance of having a panic disorder if a family member suffers from it.  Brain abnormalities also cause panic disorder when there is a problem in control of ‘fight or flight’ response. Both physical and psychological causes lead to panic disorder. Substance abuse has also been said to contribute to panic disorder.

Risks of Panic Disorder

Panic disorder can have serious consequences if left untreated. It may lead to phobias after experiencing a panic attack, you may start avoiding situations where you might think the attack may occur. Many people start avoiding , for example, to drive, to go out in market without an accomplice etc.

The quality of life of person suffering from panic disorder can be significantly damaged. Studies report people suffering from panic disorder-

1.      Have a greater risk of attempting suicide

2.      Spend more time in hospital emergencies

3.      Are more prone to alcohol and other drug abuse

4.      Tend to be financially dependent on others

5.      Feel less healthy than others

6.      Spend less time on pleasurable activities

Panic disorder also has economic disadvantages in that the sufferer tries to remain near home while giving up a good job opportunity farther off.

Treatment of Panic Disorder

Panic disorder can be treated with medication. However, the main treatment mode is psychotherapy. Educating the sufferer and family about how panic disorder is different from any physical ailment or heart attack is the first step. Cognitive behavioral therapy works best for panic disorder which includes cognitive elements which help identify possible triggers of these attacks and how to change the way the afflicted views them, and behavioral elements which include exposure to the situations that are avoided and dreaded while teaching relaxation to help the afflicted cope with these situations well.

How we can help at ePsyClinic

We are a team of qualified and experienced psychiatrists and psychologists. Medication (if needed) is prescribed by a psychiatrist while the clinical psychologist initiates therapy. The first session includes history taking and you will be taught to make a diary to monitor the symptoms. The next couple of sessions include working on your symptoms with the help of cognitive behavioral therapy. You will be helped to unlearn to avoid situations, made ready to face them and cope with your symptoms in order to get rid of them. The therapy would last for 6-15 sessions depending on the severity.

Panic disorder is completely treatable. Don’t let it alter your life. Consult us today at, India's most professional and trusted Online mental wellbeing service. 

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Tags: #PD #Panic #Disorders #anxiety #attacks