Panic Disorder is characterized mainly by episodic panic attacks. These panic attacks can occur as a result of several triggers, whether on their own or as the result of a co-existing disorder such as a phobia or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Anxious self-talk or entering situations that have been associated with anxiety or previous panic attacks can also set off a panic attack.
People who have repeated attacks will often avoid the physical locations where previous attacks have occurred, leading to serious impositions on daily life. Panic disorders can also occur with other problems, such as substance abuse or depression. In extreme cases, those who suffer from panic disorder may refuse to leave their home unless with a trusted person.
Symptoms of a panic attack include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Sensation of being smothered
- Abdominal discomfort
How is panic disorder treated?
If you are suffering from panic attacks, the first step is to get professional help. A psychiatrist can determine the root of your symptoms and the best course to treatment for you, based on the causes of your panic attacks. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help you deal with the situations that cause panic and work to change your reactions to these situations. Psychiatric medication for panic attacks is also available, with antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs.