Overview Of Panic And Anxiety Disorders
Panic And Anxiety Disorders are also commonly used with the term Panic Disorder. Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder in which you have repeated attacks of intense fear that something bad will happen.
Commonly Associated With
Panic attacks; Anxiety attacks; Fear attacks; Anxiety disorder – panic attacks
Causes Of Panic And Anxiety Disorders
The cause is unknown. Genes may play a role. Other family members may have the disorder. But panic disorder often occurs when there is no family history.
Panic disorder is twice as common in women as it is in men. Symptoms often begin before age 25 but may occur in the mid-30s. Children can also have panic disorder, but it is often not diagnosed until they are older.
Symptoms Of Panic And Anxiety Disorders
A panic attack begins suddenly and most often peaks within 10 to 20 minutes. Some symptoms continue for an hour or more. A panic attack may be mistaken for a heart attack.
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 4 of the following symptoms during an attack:
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Dizziness or feeling faint
- 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
- A sensation of shortness of breath or smothering
- Sweating, chills, or hot flashes
- Trembling or shaking
Panic attacks may change behavior and function at home, school, or work. People with the disorder often worry about the effects of their panic attacks.
People with panic and anxiety disorders may abuse alcohol or other drugs. They may feel sad or depressed.
Panic attacks cannot be predicted. At least in the early stages of the disorder, there is no trigger that starts the attack. Recalling a past attack may trigger panic attacks.
Exams & Tests for Panic And Anxiety Disorders
Many people with panic disorder first seek treatment at the emergency room. This is because a panic attack often feels like a heart attack.
The health care provider will perform a physical exam and a mental health assessment.
Blood tests will be done. Other medical disorders must be ruled out before panic disorder can be diagnosed. Disorders related to substance use will be considered because symptoms can resemble panic attacks.
Treatment Of Panic And Anxiety Disorders
The goal of treatment is to help you function well during everyday life. Using both medicines and talk therapy works best.
Talk therapy (cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT) can help you understand panic attacks and how to cope with them.
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 thoughts that cause panic 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. Practice in real-life situations to help you overcome your fears.
- Certain medicines, usually used to treat depression, may be very helpful for this disorder. They work by preventing your symptoms or making them less severe. You must take these medicines every day. DO NOT stop taking them without talking with your provider.
- Medicines called sedatives or hypnotics may also be prescribed.
- These medicines for panic and anxiety disorders should only be taken under a doctor’s direction.
- Your doctor will prescribe a limited amount of these drugs. They should not to be used every day.
- They may be used when symptoms become very severe or when you are about to be exposed to something that always brings on your symptoms.
- If you are prescribed a sedative, do not drink alcohol while on this type of medicine.
The following may also help reduce the number or severity of panic attacks:
- Do not drink alcohol.
- Eat at regular times.
- Get plenty of exercises.
- Get enough sleep.
- Reduce or avoid caffeine, certain cold medicines, and stimulants.