I promised I would share some of what the experts recommend if you suffer from a Panic Disorder.
If you read the previous post, you learned a little more about my personal journey with this.
**on that PSA you saw celebrities that suffer from Panic Disorder
Just to recap, What is Panic Disorder? Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder in which you have repeated attacks of intense fear that something bad will occur when not expected.
The cause is unknown. Genetics may play a role. Studies suggest that if one identical twin has panic disorder, the other twin will also develop the condition 40% of the time. However, panic disorder often occurs when there is no family history.
Panic disorder is twice as common in women as in men. Symptoms usually begin before age 25, but may occur in the mid 30s. Although panic disorder may occur in children, it is often not diagnosed until they are older.
*source National Institute of Health
What are the symptoms?
A panic attack begins suddenly, and most often peaks within 10 - 20 minutes. Some symptoms may continue for an hour or more. A panic attack may be mistaken for a heart attack.
Panic attacks may include anxiety about being in a situation where an escape may be difficult (such as being in a crowd or traveling in a car or bus).
A person with panic disorder often lives in fear of another attack, and may be afraid to be alone or far from medical help.
People with panic disorder have at least four of the following symptoms during an attack:
Chest pain or discomfort
Dizziness or faintness
Fear of dying
Fear of losing control or impending doom
Feeling of choking
Feelings of detachment
Feelings of unreality
Nausea or upset stomach
Numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, or face
Palpitations, fast heart rate, or pounding heart
Sensation of shortness of breath or smothering
Sweating, chills, or hot flashes
Trembling or shaking
Now some people recommend the use of drugs for treating the disorder, however, I am not a fan. If you seek information about drug therapy, then please contact a doctor.
I do believe in cognitive behavior therapy. (Heck, you can do this one on your own.) I know I have!
Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps you understand your behaviors and how to change them. You should have 10 to 20 visits over a number of weeks. During therapy you will learn how to:
Understand and control distorted views of life stressors, such as other people's behavior or life events.
Recognize and replace panic-causing thoughts, and decrease the sense of helplessness.
Manage stress and relax when symptoms occur.
Imagine the things that cause the anxiety, starting with the least fearful. Slowly become involved in the real-life situation may help you overcome the fears.
The following may also help reduce the number or severity of panic attacks:
Getting enough sleep
Regularly scheduled meals
Reduce or avoid caffeine, certain cold medicines, and stimulants
Here is a wonderful short video (less than 3 minutes) explaining what Panic Disorder is and how it all works.
Even more famous people are sharing their stories. Kim Bassinger has a very severe form of Panic Disorder. And remember those adorable New Kids On the Block? Two of the brothers suffer from Panic Disorder. Check it out, this video is about 8 minutes long.
Finally, if you are someone you know suffers from anxiety or panic attacks (which are two different experiences,) please contact your doctor or a therapist.
Other resources online:
National Institute of Mental Health
American Psychological Association