Panic Disorder

What You Need to Know about Panic Disorder

What You Need to Know about Panic Disorder

People with Panic Disorder face the perpetual fear of having a panic attack without any sufficient cause. In this case, the experienced distress is overblown which significantly disrupts everyday life. Due to their vulnerability, sufferers may also be experiencing depression as well as engage in alcoholism and substance abuse.

Individuals with panic disorder avoid places where they have experienced panic attacks as well as areas which are perceived to trigger anxiety. The symptoms usually last for around 10 minutes.

The following are the physical manifestations:
• Sweating
• Elevated blood pressure
• Dizziness
• Vomiting/ Nausea
• Increased heart beat
• Chills or Hot Flashes
• Choking/ difficulty breathing
• Numbness or Tingling of extremities

The following are the psychological symptoms:
• Sudden attacks of fear and nervousness
• Sensation of doom/ death
• Sense of losing control

The exact reasons for having Panic Disorder is not known. Like other conditions, traumatic experiences, genetics, brain abnormalities, and environment play crucial roles.

Research on patients has shown that panic disorder may run in families. Some individuals may have higher risks due to genetic predispositions. Around 30-40% of the condition's variability is linked to inherited influences. Moreover, it has been found to occur with other hereditary conditions such as bipolar disorder.

Brain Abnormality
A study conducted by Reiman, Raichle, Butler, Herscovitch, and Robins found significant abnormal asymmetry of cerebral blood flow among several people with panic disorder (1998). Furthermore, brain scanning techniques like electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have verified brain structure abnormalities among patients (1996).

Substance Abuse
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America stated that certain drugs can cause or exacerbate mental illnesses such as panic disorder. Recreational drugs such as Cocaine and alcohol have been associated with panic attacks, paranoia, and psychosis. According to Mental Health America, around 30% of sufferers use alcohol while 17% use other psychoactive drugs.

Stressful Events
Chronic stress and major life transitions may lead to panic attacks which can evolve to a disorder. However, even accumulated stress can lead to this condition. The research conducted by Keller Moitra and her colleagues on 418 respondents with panic disorder concluded that constant stressful life events occurred before the onset of panic attacks (2011).


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
This type of psychotherapy is commonly employed in treating anxiety disorders. CBT involves discovering specific fear triggers and rallying self-confidence. Generally, the psychiatrist changes the patient's perception of panic attacks by bolstering his ability to conquer his irrational thoughts. Effective techniques in regaining emotional control and halting panic responses are taught. This kind of therapy gives prime importance to collaboration in achieving cognitive, behavioral, and emotional regulations. Clients generally go through 16 sessions to achieve results.

Supervised medication is facilitated to support people who suffer from severe anxiety attacks. Doctors prescribe Zoloft, Paxil, and other anti-depressant drugs. Ativan, Xanax, and other antianxiety drugs are also given. However, caution must be observed since the National Center for Biotechnological Information verified that prescriptions have side effects such as sleepiness, nausea, headaches, and weight gain. Certain medications such as Xanax and other benzodiazepines can become addictive.

Full reference: 

(Sep 30, 2015). Panic Disorder. Retrieved Oct 31, 2020 from Staging -

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