Panic disorder is a highly treatable disease; hence those who have it must not lose heart.
Panic disorder is the term used for panic attack when this (panic attack) becomes a recurring feature in a person’s life. The symptoms are so confusing that the patient may visit specialists in heart, lungs, thyroid, digestive system or something else, one after the other. The patient usually loses precious time and money in the process and his or her health deteriorates before finding the right doctor who is usually a well-qualified and experienced psychiatrist.
The symptoms of panic attack generally include
- palpitation or fast racing of the heart,
- shortness of breath and
- breathing difficulty (without lung congestion);
and some of the following manifestations:
- trembling and shaking
- chest pain
- stomach upset
- urge to urinate
- dizziness, nausea
- tingling or numbness in the hands
- hot flashes or chills
- fear of dying
- Repeated yawning before the onset
In course of time the person loses appetite for food and gets thinner and very weak. Feels totally inadequate and finds it difficult to bear unpleasant remarks or even trivial problems. He/she may find it difficult to sleep because of breathing difficulty or palpitations; and may need to be propped up in bead in order to feel comfortable.
Panic disorder appears to be the outcome of various suppressed emotional stresses on the human mind, which manifest as physical, physiological and mental symptoms, which we refer to as panic attack syndrome.
The following stress factors appear to be leading to panic attacks over a period of time.
1. Traumatic experiences in life such as bereavements, unexpected turn of events, extreme regrets of having made wrong moves; and not venting them out.
2. Feeling over-concerned about even minor unpleasant incidents or physical health symptoms and panicking about them; but not telling others.
3. Increased sensitivity to carbon dioxide, is suggested by some to be a causative factor for developing panic attacks.
4. Fear of major changes in life such as a new job of location, a higher study, marrying into an unknown family (usually in arranged marriages); and not discussing these with others who matter to you.
5. Intense pressure to complete a difficult assignment given to you is yet another causative factor.
Some who suffer panic disorder appear to be perfectionists who find it too hard to take it when they make some blunders in life, leaving deep disappointment and regret, but keeping it all to themselves.
The physical and emotional stresses mentioned above appear to cause imbalance to certain neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain. Such imbalance may aid in developing physiological conditions that manifest panic attack syndrome. Usually the nervous system signals the adrenaline glands to spew out loads of adrenaline into the bloodstream. The panic attack symptoms are the outcome of the reactions of various parts of the body, such as the heart and the lungs, to this copious rush of adrenaline.
What can you do?
If you feel that you are suffering panic attack, based on the symptoms we discussed above, do visit a well-experienced professional psychiatrist who also has sound training in neurology. If he/she says your problem is related to some other specialists (heart, lung, etc) then go to them. Or else this psychiatrist is your physician and will take care of your problem. Do ensure that you follow his/her advice faithfully. Do not abruptly stop the medication or change the dose on your own. While the major bothering panic symptoms will subside soon after you start the medication, the healing process itself will manifest gradually; hence you need to be patient. As a famous psychiatrist said once, have faith God and also in the doctor who treats you.
In mild levels of panic attack the doctor may not prescribe any medication but might ask you to do what is called progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) exercise. For other patients, the doctor will prescribe medication and, after some progress is achieved, may also suggest PMR. The following exercise module is claimed to be very beneficial, but you must go by the advice of your doctor.
You may visit the following excellent sites for more information on Panic Disorder
- Panic about “panic” Anxiety and Panic Disorder Center
- Panic Disorder – Causes NHS Choices
- Panic Disorder: when fear overcomes NIH
- What is panic disorder? Healthline
Other psychosomatic illnesses dealt with in our website are:
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