Panic Disorder consists of recurring panic attacks. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5) defines panic attacks as abrupt surges of intense fear or discomfort that peak within minutes.  People with this disorder live in fear of having a panic attack. You may be having a panic attack when you feel a sudden, overwhelming terror that has no obvious cause. For instance, you may experience physical symptoms, such as a racing heart, difficulty breathing, and sweating.
The American Psychological Association reports that 1 out of every 75 people suffers from panic disorder. Even though the symptoms may feel overwhelming and frightening, they can be managed and improved with treatment. Seeking a proper panic attacks treatment is the most important part of reducing symptoms and improving your quality of life.
Symptoms of Panic Disorder
Fear of panic attacks or recalling a panic attack can result in another attack. The common symptoms associated with a panic attack include:
- Racing heartbeat or palpitations
- Chest pain or tightness
- Sweating or chills
- Fear that you might die
- Shaking or trembling
- Numbness or tingling in your hands or feet
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling like you are choking
- Dizziness (vertigo)
- Changes in mental state, including a feeling of derealization (feeling of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself)
Moreover, you may have a panic disorder if you have had four or more panic attacks, or you live in fear of having another attack after experiencing one. Often with no warning, panic attacks produce intense fear that begins suddenly. In addition, an attack typically lasts for 10 to 20 minutes, but in intense cases, symptoms may last for more than an hour. Keep in mind that the experience is different for everyone, and symptoms often vary.
Panic Disorder Diagnosis
If you experience panic attack symptoms, you may seek emergency medical care. However, many who have experienced a panic attack for the first time thought that they were having a heart attack. Initially, the emergency provider will do several tests to see if your symptoms are caused by a heart attack. After that, they may run blood tests to rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms, or an electrocardiogram/ECG to check your heart function. If there is no emergency basis for your symptoms, you will be referred to your primary care provider. Then, your primary care provider may perform a mental health examination and ask you about your symptoms.
In conclusion, we cannot say we can possibly prevent panic disorder. However, we can work to reduce the symptoms by avoiding alcohol and stimulants such as caffeine as well as illicit drugs. It is also helpful to be aware if you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety following a distressing life event.
Potential Triggers for Panic Attacks:
- You might be more likely to experience panic attacks if you have family members with a history of panic attacks or panic disorder
- Anxiety is not the same thing as a panic attack, but the two conditions are closely related. Feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or highly anxious can be a risk factor for a future panic attack.
- Brain chemistry changes
- Hormonal changes or changes from medications may impact your brain’s chemistry and can cause panic attacks.
- Life events
- Major changes in your personal or professional life can bring about a great deal of worry or concern. This may lead to panic attacks.
- Underlying conditions
- Conditions and disorders may increase the chances of a panic attack. These may include generalized anxiety disorder, acute stress disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Individuals with specific phobias may also experience panic attacks that wake them up.
- Previous panic attacks
- Fear of having another panic attack may increase anxiety. This could lead to increased stress, sleep loss, and higher risk for more panic attacks.
Panic Attacks/Panic Disorder Treatment
Treatment for panic disorder focuses on reducing or eliminating the symptoms. This can be achieved through therapy with a qualified professional and in some cases, medication. Therapy typically involves cognitive-behavioral therapy as well. This therapy teaches you to change your thoughts and actions so that you can understand your panic attacks and manage your fear. Medications used to treat panic disorder can include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a class of antidepressants. Moreover, SSRIs prescribed for panic disorder include fluoxetine, paroxetine, and sertraline. Furthermore, your doctor may prescribe certain medications to help stop future panic attacks. If you do experience a panic attack while on these medications, the symptoms can be less severe.
Several numbers people have panic attacks regularly. You may want to talk to your doctor about treatments that can help you reduce the attacks and prevent them from happening in the future. These treatments may include:
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) – During sessions, you will work with a therapist to understand the possible causes of your panic attacks. You will also develop strategies to help you ease the symptoms quickly if ever they happen again.
We Level Up NJ Treatment Center provides world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals available to help you cope. We work as an integrated team providing panic attack treatment for successful recovery. Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life. Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions. Your call is private and confidential and there is never any obligation.
 https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/practice/dsm – Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5)