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panic attack

Signs of Panic Disorders

Everyone can become worried, or scared, or experience unpleasant emotions, but not everyone has a panic disorder. Worry and fear are parts of everyday life but when they become every part of your life – you have a problem. It can sometimes to be difficult to recognize the difference between a diagnosable panic disorder, and someone who just ‘freaks out’ a lot, but there are discernible differences that are important if you think you need help.

Let’s learn more about panic disorders including what panic disorders are, the signs of panic disorders, the relationship between panic and addition, and modern methods used to treat panic disorders. Just by learning about these disorders you can better fight them.

What are Panic Disorders?

Panic disorders are one of five types of diagnosable anxiety disorders, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Other than panic disorder, anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is possible for someone to be diagnosed with multiple types of panic disorders.

Symptoms of Panic Disorders

Panics disorders show themselves in several signs and symptoms. If you’ve been suffering from the following symptoms and are trying to figure out what’s wrong – you may have a panic disorder.

  • Insomnia
  • Erratic heartbeat, palpitations
  • Fear of panic attacks
  • Chronic anxiety
  • Panic (anxiety) attacks

What is a Panic Attack?

Panic attacks, also known as anxiety attacks, are the hallmark of panic disorders. During a panic attack, the sufferer may feel an intense feeling of dread or that something terrible is about to happen. The sufferer may even feel like they’re about to die.

Panic attacks present themselves physically in trouble breathing, erratic heartbeat, tunnel vision, sweating, clammy skin, and other symptoms. Panic attacks are generally short-lived lasting less than fifteen minutes but can leave the sufferer shaken and disturbed for several hours after the initial attack. Some diagnosed with panic disorders can suffer multiple panic attacks daily.

Dual-Diagnosis

As stated earlier, it’s not only possible for someone to be diagnosed with multiple panic disorders – it’s common. Most sufferers of PTSD suffer panic attacks and many with OCD may become panicked due to their obsessions. Panic disorders are symptoms of most anxiety disorders.

Treating Panic Disorders

How do you treat panic disorders? There’s no one concrete treatment for panic disorders, but rather a multi-pronged attack.

woman with a panic disorder

Counseling and Therapy

If possible, no drugs will be used to treat a panic disorder. Counseling and different forms of psychological therapy are still considered the most powerful forms of treatment for panic disorders. Counseling and treatment vary greatly and what works for one person may not work for another. Common forms of therapy for panic disorders include:

One-on-one Counseling

One-on-one is just that – you and counselor discussing your panic disorder. Every counselor employs different techniques, but most can simply help you just by listening and explaining what you can do to help yourself. Individual counseling has been one of the most effective forms of therapy for several decades.

Group Counseling

It’s easier to overcome a disorder when you can share your struggles and triumphs with others. Group counseling is used for all types of anxiety disorders including panic disorder and has shown to be beneficial to sufferers. Alcoholics Anonymous quickly figured out treating psychological disorders is much easier in a group setting and the techniques of group therapy have been applied to many conditions before and since then.  

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most popular modern forms of psychotherapy and has been practiced successfully for several decades for the treatment of panic disorders. In CBT a therapist will focus on how a patient thinks and feels (cognition) and how they respond to those thoughts and feelings (behavior.) By carefully analyzing thoughts and behaviors, a therapist can help a panic disorder sufferer learn how to recognize triggers, recognize their own thought patterns, and change their resulting behavior for a more beneficial outcome. CBT is also used to treat other anxiety disorders.

Medication

Moderate and severe panic disorders can be helped with modern medication. In the 1950s and 60s barbiturates were one of the most commonly-prescribed treatments for panic and anxiety disorders but have largely fallen out of favor for safer alternatives like benzodiazepines or counseling. Recently medical marijuana, specifically non-psychoactive CBD oil, has been explored to treat panic disorders through research for treating panic attacks with CBD oil is still in its infancy.

Health and Nutrition

You can be very healthy and still have a panic disorder, but proper and healthy nutrition can do wonders for this condition. Exercise, proper sleep, and a diet packed with nutrients from fresh fruit and vegetables have continuously shown benefits to all types of disorders including anxiety disorders. Some may be able to quell their panic attacks without medication, just proper health, and counseling.

Panic Disorders and Addiction

Most drug and alcohol users report psychological effects from their abuse including panic disorders. Alcoholics or addicts in active addiction or withdrawal might experience anxiety and panic attacks, even if they never experienced these before. Once the initial detox flushes drugs or alcohol from the system, you can treat the panic and anxiety symptoms much more easily.

Getting Help with a Panic Disorder

If you are or someone you love has had their life halted by a panic disorder or other anxiety disorder – you must seek professional help. Pick up the phone or go online to research places around you that can help you slow down your panicked brain. Just by starting your search you’ve made a choice to live a healthier and happier life.