Panic disorder is characterized by panic attacks. A panic attack is a sudden, distinct episode of intense and overwhelming anxiety that often occurs without warning or any obvious reason. The experience of a panic attack is far more powerful and extreme than the feeling of being “highly stressed”, tense, or worried. Individuals may feel like sudden death is imminent and that at any moment a terrible trauma is about to happen, or that they are about to die of a heart attack. If you or someone you know experiences these symptoms, it’s crucial that you get help from a panic disorder therapist.
The symptoms of panic disorder revolve around the panic attack itself. A panic attack involves:
- difficulty breathing,
- tingling in the extremities,
- chills or hot flashes,
- a sensation of smothering or choking,
- an intense feeling of dread,
- a pounding heart,
- and the fear that you are about to die.
Aside from the symptoms inherent in the panic attack, individuals with panic disorder live under the constant fear that they might have a panic attack at any time.
The main cause of panic disorder is unknown, but there are definitely factors that contribute. These include:
- alterations in parts of the brain,
- significant environmental stressors,
- and a personality or temperament that doesn’t handle stress well.
While panic attacks may show no direct relation to the current situation or identifiable trigger, they have been linked to existing phobias an individual may or may not understand. In addition, the panic attack acts as a protective mechanism for the individual, creating a flight or fight response in a situation that doesn’t pose any obvious danger.
With a qualified counselor , panic disorder can be successfully treated for nearly everyone who has it. The main treatment options are medication and psychotherapy. Medication usually consists of antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications. Through therapy, individuals can begin to assess and determine possible triggers for the attacks. These could include underlying anxieties not related to the attacks, thoughts, feelings, or even a belief about oneself that leaves the individual unable to reconcile these aspects with their current situation.
While panic disorder isn’t preventable, strictly speaking, it can be managed and there are plenty of ways to reduce the impact of its symptoms. One step is to cut or eliminate consumption of any caffeinated products, including tea, colas, chocolate, and coffee. It also helps to maintain a healthy lifestyle of daily exercise and a balanced diet. Be sure to consult with a qualified panic disorder therapist before you take over-the-counter drugs, because they could contain ingredients that exacerbate anxiety symptoms.
Why Choose New Horizons to Treat Panic Disorder?
All of our therapists and doctors at North Horizons are licensed professionals, and we have panic disorder counselors ready to help. The sooner you recognize the symptoms of panic disorder and get help, the easier it will be to recover. We encourage you to give us a call or click to request an appointment.