Panic disorder can be a disruptive force in someone’s life. Although it is not considered to be life-threatening, panic disorder can cause a person to live in fear of their next attack. This fear can cause people to miss out on significant life events and opportunities.
Panic disorder is a chronic mental health condition and anxiety disorder that causes a person to suffer from recurring panic attacks. Panic disorder is not a curable condition, although it is considered to be treatable through a combination of medication and psychotherapy.
A panic attack is an episode of intense fear or worry. Although panic attacks are not considered to be particularly dangerous, they can cause pain and be scary for those who are not used to them. Panic attacks often cause chest pain, sweating, and shortness of breath. Many people who have not suffered from a panic attack often feel that they are having a heart attack or are dying the first time they experience one.
While many people may experience a panic attack once or twice in their lives, someone with a panic disorder goes through them regularly. Although not physically dangerous, this disorder can be incredibly harmful to a person’s mental well-being.
Because no one can predict when the next attack will likely occur, people with panic disorder often live in fear. People may be unwilling to drive or travel because they are afraid of what will happen if they have a panic attack suddenly. They may also be less likely to attend social events or take opportunities at work out of fear of when their next episode may occur.
Panic disorder is characterized by panic attacks that occur on a somewhat regular basis. The frequency of episodes is dependent on the severity of the condition. Some people with panic disorder may experience occasional attacks, while others may suffer from persistent attacks. Although each person may be affected differently, most panic attacks last a short time. The worst effects of a panic attack are usually over within the first few minutes.
While the attack is occurring, many people will feel some pain or discomfort. This feeling often causes many people to believe that they are suffering from a heart attack or stroke at the moment. While the pain is commonly felt within the chest, arm pain, headaches, and muscle aches are also possible.
During a panic attack, many people will find it hard or impossible to communicate. A combination of shortness of breath, fear, and dizziness can make it hard to focus or tell others what is going on. Inability to communicate can often make the anxiety even worse.
The trauma of experiencing a panic attack can cause some people to dissociate during the event. This leads to what is commonly described as an “out-of-body” experience. Others may go numb during an attack or potentially even lose consciousness. While all of these scenarios seem frightening, they are mental or psychological reactions to the fear of a panic attack. They are not dangerous symptoms, outside the stress they can cause a person to feel.
While a single panic attack can be caused by any major life event or stressful situation, the development of panic disorder is caused by various factors. The causes of panic disorder and chronic panic attacks are likely a combination of multiple risk factors. Biological, psychological, and environmental factors can all play a role in the development of panic disorder.
Chronic panic attacks can often occur alongside other anxiety disorders, such as social anxiety disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. These anxiety disorders cause a person to feel intense fear in specific situations, leading to frequent panic attacks.
A person may develop panic disorder at any time. Although it commonly will begin in early childhood, experiencing trauma or abuse can lead to panic disorder development. If you are a person who is experiencing chronic panic attacks after a traumatic event, it is important to seek help from a medical professional to determine if you have panic disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Women are more likely than men to suffer from chronic panic attacks, although panic disorder can affect anyone (1). Panic attacks are often considered to be brain and body responding to danger in some way, engaging with a “fight-or-flight” instinct. Panic disorder may be commonly caused by a change in the human brain that engages with these instincts even when no real threat is apparent.
You should seek professional medical help as soon as possible if experiencing recurring panic attacks. Because panic disorder is not considered overly dangerous or life-threatening, many people attempt to manage the disorder independently. Going through this process without help leads many people to live their lives in fear. No one should miss out on the significant moments and opportunities in life because of a treatable mental health condition.
Since there is no cure for panic disorder, treatment plans focus on reducing the symptoms caused by the condition. This is usually accomplished through a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Finding the best possible treatment for you may take time, so you must be honest and patient with your doctor in the early stages.
At AM Health Care, we are to help you deal with your mental health in any way possible. We believe in designing a treatment plan that precisely suits your condition and your needs. Mental health disorders can be disruptive and potentially dangerous when left untreated, so there is no reason to wait any longer. Please call us today at 818-383-1297 to learn more about how we can help you and potential treatment options.