Panic disorder is a serious condition and symptoms include sudden attacks of fear and nervousness, as well as physical symptoms such as sweating and a racing heart. During a panic attack, the fear response is out of proportion for the situation, which often is not threatening. Over time, a person with panic disorder develops a constant fear of having another panic attack, which can affect daily functioning and general quality of life.
Panic disorder most often begins during late adolescence and early adulthood. It is twice as common in women as in men
Symptoms of Panic Disorder
Often last about 10 minutes, include:
- Difficulty breathing.
- Pounding heart or chest pain.
- Intense feeling of dread.
- Sensation of choking or smothering.
- Dizziness or feeling faint.
- Trembling or shaking.
- Nausea or stomachache.
- Tingling or numbness in the fingers and toes.
- Chills or hot flashes.
- A fear that you are losing control or are about to die.
Causes Panic Disorder
The exact cause of panic disorder is not fully understood however biological and environmental, may be involved. These factors include.
- Family history. Panic disorder has been shown to run in families.
- Abnormalities in the brain. Panic disorder may be caused by problems in parts of the brain.
- Substance abuse. Abuse of drugs and alcohol can contribute to panic disorder.
- Major life stress. Stressful events and major life transitions, such as the death of a loved one, can trigger panic disorder.
Complete medical history and physical exam. There are no lab tests to specifically diagnose panic disorder.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Relaxation techniques
- Avoidance. Discontinue any activities that seem to trigger a panic attack making a normal work and home life nearly impossible.
- Anticipatory anxiety. Anxiety that is triggered merely by thinking about the possibility of having an anxiety attack.
- Agoraphobia. Fear of being in places or situations in which an attack may occur, or from which escape would be difficult or highly embarrassing. This fear can drive people to avoid public places and crowds, and may even progress to the point that the person will not leave his or her home.
- Claustrophobia. Fear of enclosed spaces.
Panic disorder cannot be prevented; however, there are some things you can do to reduce stress and decrease symptoms, including:
- Stop or reduce consumption of products that contain caffeine, such as coffee, tea, cola, and chocolate.
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist before taking any over-the-counter drugs or herbal remedies. Many contain chemicals that can increase anxiety symptoms.
- Exercise daily and eat a healthy, balanced diet.