Panic Disorder. Designed by: Regina Crews Secretary of Student Support Services. Press enter to continue. What is Panic Disorder?.
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Symptoms include: racing or pounding heartbeat, chest pains, dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, difficulty breathing, tingling or numbness in the hands, flushes or chills, dreamlike sensations or perceptual distortions (déjà vu), terror – a sense that something unimaginably horrible is about to occur and one is powerless to prevent it, fear of losing control and doing something embarrassing, fear of dying.
A panic attack typically lasts for several minutes and is one of the most distressing conditions that a person can experience. Most people who have one attack will have others. When someone has repeated attacks, or feels anxiety about having another attack, he or she is said to have panic disorder.
Panic disorder is a serious health problem in this country. At least 1.6 percent of adult Americans, or 3 million people, will have panic disorder at some time in their lives. The disorder is different from other types of anxiety because attacks are sudden, appeared to be unprovoked, and are often disabling.
Yes. Panic disorder is potentially disabling, but can be controlled with specific treatments. Because of accompanying symptoms, panic disorder may be mistaken for heart disease or some other life-threatening medical illness.
According to one theory, the body’s normal “alarm system”, the set of mental and physical mechanisms that allows a person to respond to a threat tends to be triggered unnecessarily, when there is no danger.
Often first attacks are triggered by physical illnesses, a major life stress, or perhaps medications that increase activity in the part of the brain involved in fear reactions.
Heredity can also play a strong role in determining who will have panic attacks. If one family member experiences panic disorder then it is likely that others will also.
We will try to accept the fact that we have a phobia, on which has limited our lifestyle because of feelings of panic and loss of control. By accepting the fact that we are phobic without passing judgment on ourselves we have taken our first step toward recovery.
Our self-talk, which is non-permissive and self-shaming, has been partly responsible for our phobia, and continues to be a problem in that it affects the intensity and duration of our anxiety. It will help if we practice an inner dialogue which is self-nurturing. We could begin by giving ourselves permission to be anxious.
We will try to allow strange sensations or feelings of panic, just letting them happen rather than resisting them. It will help if we do not attach any danger to these feelings, allowing ourselves to focus on solutions rather than symptoms.
During the process of our recovery, we can reach a point where we are more receptive to the occurrence of panic attacks. By letting go of the fear the feelings of panic will eventually subside.
We will try to take risks rather than continually trying to avoid places and situations where we feel anxious, reassuring ourselves that we can function well even when we are uncomfortable.
When catastrophizing with the “what ifs”, it will help to realize that they are only thoughts and chances are they will not happen. It might also help to affirm that we carry our safe place within.
We will try to have a more positive attitude toward our phobia by learning more about it thereby removing the veil of mystery, and by talking about it, thus lifting the burden of a deep, dark secret. Having a sense of humor about our situation will help us to keep our perspective.
We will try to accept setbacks as a normal and necessary part of our recovery, trying to see them as temporary. It might help to remind ourselves that even though we feel like we’re starting over, we never really go back to “square one”.
We will try to take the time limit out of our recovery, seeing it as open-ended. It will help if we try to accept where we are right now without comparing ourselves with past progress, and at the same time try to be accepting of any future anxiety.
When feeling anxious we will try to slow down, not only in our actions, but in our thinking as well. When we feel a need to rush ahead, it will help if we try maintaining a slower pace.
Having improved as a result of this program, we will continue to open doors for others, as doors have been opened for us by giving them the support, help and encouragement that we ourselves have received.
Anxiety Disorders Association of America, 6000 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, Rockville, MD 20852
American Psychiatric Association, 1400 K Street, Northwest, Washington, DC 20005
American Psychological Association, 1200 17th Street, Northwest, Washington, DC 2005
National Institute of Mental Health Panic Disorder Education Program, Room 7C-02, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857
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