Panic Attacks And Panic Disorder

17th October 2023

What is panic disorder?

Panic disorder is a condition in which a person has episodes of intense fear or anxiety that occur suddenly (often without warning). These episodes--called panic attacks--can last from minutes to hours. They may occur only once in a while, or they may occur quite frequently. The cause, or "trigger," for these attacks may not be obvious. A diagnosis of panic disorder is usually made after a person experiences at least 2 panic attacks that occur without reason and are followed by a period of at least 1 month of fear that another attack will happen.

Panic attacks can happen anytime, anywhere and without warning. You may live in fear of another attack and may avoid places where you have had an attack. For some people, fear takes over their lives and they cannot leave their homes. Panic disorder is more common in women than men. It usually starts when people are young adults. Sometimes it starts when a person is under a lot of stress. Most people get better with treatment. Therapy can show you how to recognize and change your thinking patterns before they lead to panic. 

What happens during a panic attack

Panic attacks are associated with physical symptoms that include the following:

  • Shaking or trembling
  • Fast Heartbeat, pounding or racing
  • Sweating
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Breathing Difficulty
  • Feeling that you are choking
  • Nausea
  • Cramping
  • Dizziness
  • An out-of-body feeling
  • Tingling or numbness in your hands, arms, feet or legs
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • A person may also have an extreme fear of losing control, going crazy or dying during a panic attack. It is very rare for a person to have all of these symptoms at once. However, the presence of at least 4 symptoms strongly suggests that a person has panic disorder.Many of the symptoms that occur during a panic attack are the same as the symptoms of diseases of the heart, lungs, intestines or nervous system. The similarities between panic disorder and other diseases may add to the person's fear and anxiety during and after a panic attack.Just the fear of having a panic attack is often enough to trigger the symptoms. This is the basis for a condition called agoraphobia. A person who has agoraphobia finds it difficult to leave home (or another safe area) because he or she is afraid of having a panic attack in public or not having an easy way to escape if the symptoms start."Counseling does not work as fast as medicine, but it can be just as effective." (Family Doctor)

    What Drug Treatments are being used for Panic Attacks:

    Paroxetine (brand name: Paxil) and sertraline (brand name: Zoloft)

    Mood Stabilizers: Alprazolam (brand name: Xanax) and clonazepam (brand name: Klonopin, Rivotril, Rivatril)Xanax and Klonopin are benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines possess sedative, hypnotic, anxiolytic, anticonvulsant, muscle relaxant and amnesic actions.
    Self Help for Panic Attacks
    1. Don't watch horror or scary movies or on television. Stay away from occult or spiritism.
    2. Read to keep aware of world events and news rather than watching more graphic television. Be a reader, rather than a watcher (of TV and movies). It will be stabilizing and mind-strengthening.
    3. Don't watch violent TV or movies.
    4. Listen to soothing and mellow music rather than aggressive music.
    5. Spiritual: Read the Bible each day and pray when one feels a panic attack coming on.
    6. Take up art, it can soothe and relax the mind.
    7. Take time to walk every day. Try green therapy, walks, hikes in the park, vacations at a lake, mountains.

    1. Benzodiazepine (June 29, 2009) Wikipedia Org.
    2. Clonazepam (June 30, 2009). Wikipedia Org.
    Panic Attacks. (Retrieved July 2, 2009). Family Doctor Online.
    Panic Attacks. (June 19, 2009). MedLine Plus.