Panic disorder is one of the five major types of anxiety disorders. This particular disorder is characterized by recurring panic attack episodes.
A random panic attack does not mean you have a panic disorder. When a person suffers from a disorder, they experience frequent panic episodes usually over a prolonged period of time lasting a month or more.
Many people have experienced random panic attacks. They may experience one and never have another again in their life, while others experience them more frequently. A person who suffers a "disorder" is someone who has repeated attacks and most of the time, they are debilitating enough to interfere with the routine of daily living.
There is no time limit to these panic attacks. While panic usually only lasts a few minutes, it is not uncommon to experience one right after the other. They can happen any time of day or night, including nocturnal panic attacks. Panic attacks vary in intensity and duration for each person.
People who have a panic disorder, experience feelings of intense anxiety and panic attacks. This anxiety and panic results in physical symptoms that are undeniably real and most uncomfortable. Some of the more common symptoms include dizziness, breathlessness, racing heartbeat, sweating, shaking, and heart palpitations.
These body symptoms are usually so strong that the person suffering with them is convinced that something is seriously wrong with them. They most often worry that they may pass out, lose control, go crazy, or even have a stroke or a heart attack.
Because the symptoms are so real and incredibly uncomfortable, the sufferer's breathing usually becomes shallow and rapid which causes other symptoms such as hyperventilation, feelings of depersonalization and other unwanted body sensations.
A Common Misinterpretation
It is a common misinterpretation for the sufferer to believing that these symptoms mean that something more is wrong with them other than just the simple experience of a panic episode.
If panic attack episodes happen in a public place or during a certain event, the sufferer may interpret this to mean that they should avoid these situations and events in the future. This is exactly how phobias are born, especially the development of agoraphobia.
It is important to note that agoraphobia is not the same as a panic disorder. There are many people with panic disorder that don't experience avoidance behaviors. However, all people with agoraphobia experience panic attacks that result in avoidance.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, panic disorder affects approximately 6 million adults in America alone and is twice as common in women than men. This does not account for the millions more that are affected from all countries and races around the world.
This disorder can be physically and emotionally debilitating, especially when it continually disrupts the normal flow of everyday living. It is this fact alone, that makes it all that more important to seek help in the early states of anxiety and panic. Studies show that when early intervention is initiated, the chance of developing Agoraphobia are much lower and most of this is due to early education.
What keeps many people stuck for months or years with a panic disorder is their lack of understanding and misinterpretations of their body symptoms.
It's important to note that panic can be a result of more serious health issues like hormonal imbalance, Mitral Valve Prolapse, magnesium deficiency and thyroid problems. However, once these more serious health issues have been ruled out by a physician, it's important to focus on what your doctor tells you. Unfortunately, panic disorder sufferers are known for spending hours researching their symptoms and even spend months or years going from doctor to doctor looking for a more explainable reason for their symptoms.
For them, it is so hard to believe that the symptoms they feel could only be a result of anxiety. It is not uncommon for Hypochondriasis to set in and for the sufferer to worry about every sensation they feel, even normal everyday body sensations. They are always looking for reasons for the way they feel instead of accepting it for what it is.
Help for Panic Disorder
I am happy to say that there are many effective methods for overcoming panic disorder. Panic disorder is extremely treatable and curable! Although not every method works for every person the same way, there are numerous options available today.
Some of the Most Common methods are:
The sooner you seek help for a panic disorder, the sooner you will find yourself on the road to recovery. If you are suffering, don't wait, seek the help of a qualified therapist and educate yourself. Recovery begins when you start taking control over your life and making healthy decisions for yourself.
If you need direction, start here.