Panic Disorder is a condition in which a person consistently suffers from sudden, severe onsets of worry or extreme fear. These experiences tend to be brief but intense periods of anxiety, commonly called panic attacks. Unlike other anxiety disorders, the experience of anxiety with this disorder are short-lived and have marked beginning and end. However, one debilitating symptom of the disorder is the anxiety or dread that another panic attack might come on suddenly, without warning.
Panic Disorder Symptoms
Symptoms that one might have during a panic attack might include:
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid heart rate
- Extreme and sudden overwhelm of worry and fear
- Stomach pains
- Fear of losing one’s mind
- Fear of losing control of oneself
- Fear of death
As mentioned above, another common symptom, in addition to those experienced during an attack itself, is the fear of having another attack come on without warning.
There are a variety of factors that can contribute to the development of Panic Disorder. There is not one known cause of the illness. Instead, Panic Disorder can develop as a result of the following factors:
- Genetic influences – anxiety disorders have a genetic component
- Panic Disorder can frequently accompany Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. When someone has experienced a traumatic experience or a significant life change, such as a death, divorce, move, or career change, he or she might subsequently develop Panic Disorder.
- A person with PTSD is more vulnerable to develop a Panic Disorder.
- Panic Disorder can develop if someone has had a change to their medication, whether beginning to take medication or withdrawing from medication.
- A person already suffering from another form of Anxiety Disorder can be especially vulnerable to developing a Panic Disorder.
- The presence of an Anxiety Disorder along with the use of stimulants can intensify symptoms of anxiety and gradually develop a Panic Disorder, if not treated.
- The presence of an Anxiety Disorder along with the use of alcohol, which can increase the severity of symptoms, can also contribute to the development of Panic Disorder.
Panic Disorder Treatment
Treatment can allow a person to return to living a life with little to no symptoms of Panic Disorder. Like other anxiety disorders, the best form of Panic Disorder Treatment is a combination of both psychotherapy as well as medication. Intensive Outpatient Treatment options allow for individuals to participate in part-time therapy programs while still balancing their work and family priorities. IOP is recommended for those who need a level of structure and accountability without the full-time residential treatment option.
- Medication – Typically, anti-anxiety medication is prescribed for those who experience panic attacks. This can help reduce the feelings of dread that another attack is imminent as well as reduce one’s overall sense of anxiety. Medication might help reduce the number of panic attacks one experiences.
- Talk Therapy – There are several different types of non-medication treatments that can provide relief from the symptoms of panic attacks. Psychotherapy can address any underlying issues that might be contributing to anxiety and the presence of panic attacks.
- Relaxation Therapy– There are many practices that one can learn that can be used when an attack feels imminent. These include meditation, mindfulness, and deep breathing. These can give someone suffering from Panic Disorder resources to facilitate responding to anxiety in different and more controlled ways.
If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of Panic Disorder, contact a mental health provider for assistance.
For more information on Intensive Outpatient Treatment for Panic Disorder at Vantage Point please contact us 7 days a week at (805) 777-7595.