Do you commonly have sudden bouts of anxiety attacks or experience an overwhelming fear that lasts what feels like an eternity? Perhaps you experience a pounding heart, feel as though you can’t breathe, or you start to sweat profusely. Maybe these attacks are unpredictable with no apparent trigger, which causes you to worry about it happening again.
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s possible that you have an anxiety disorder known as panic disorder. If left untreated, the condition will lower your quality of life due to fears that you may have other mental health disorders. It may also cause issues at school or work and social isolation.
Those who are struggling with panic disorder will have sudden and repeated attacks of fear that last for an extended period. These are known as panic attacks, which are characterized by a fear of disaster or of losing control even when no danger is imminent.
You may feel like you’re having a heart attack, and these may occur at any time. Many of those with panic disorder will continuously worry and dread the fact that they may have another attack An individual with panic disorder may feel a sense of shame or discouragement when they cannot carry out their daily routine, such as going to the grocery store, attending a class, showing up for work, or driving.
Panic disorder typically appears in the late teens or early adulthood. Unfortunately, more women will experience the condition than men, and not everyone who deals with panic attacks will develop panic disorder.
While panic disorder is sometimes hereditary, researchers don’t have an understanding as to why some family members will develop the condition, and others won’t. Studies have shown that several parts of the brain play a role in anxiety and fear. Some research indicates that individuals with panic disorder misinterpret harmless bodily sensations as threats. Learning more about the brain of those struggling with the condition will help answer the question of better treatment options. Doctors also look for ways that stress and environmental factors play a role.
Someone experiencing panic disorder may encounter these symptoms:
You must speak with your primary care physician about your symptoms. The doctor must do an exam and ask about your health history to ensure there are no other issues causing your symptoms. Panic disorder is generally treated with:
Doctors typically use different medications to treat panic disorder, which include:
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