Everything to Know about Panic Disorder, Attacks (Part 1)

Panic Disorder Information

Panic disorder is an anxiety condition which is characterized by sudden bouts of physical and emotional discomfort known as panic attacks.

A panic attack occurs when a person’s body reacts to a perceived threat when there is not really anything threatening in his or her environment. Rather than preparing a person to flee danger or to confront it, a panic attack basically causes one to freeze up.

According to an article on PsychCentral, a person experiencing a panic attack usually exhibits physical symptoms including:

· Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
· Sweating
· Trembling or shaking
· Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
· Feeling of choking
· Chest pain or discomfort
· Nausea or abdominal distress
· Feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed, or faint
· Chills or hot flushes

In addition to these physical complaints, a person having a panic attack may experience emotional distress such as feeling afraid he or she is dying or unable to control what is happening. Some people may think they are having a heart attack when they have their first panic attack.

Panic attacks can be very disruptive to someone’s routine. The worry that an attack will occur can cause people to develop avoidant behaviors, which means they may try to stay away from certain situations out of fear. People who have panic attacks may be so afraid that they will have an attack that they begin to stay away from others and to try to hide their condition. This can mean avoiding activities which are healthy and beneficial such as working or spending time with friends.

People who avoid others due to panic attacks may feel embarrassed or shamed by their condition. The people who avoid certain situations because of panic attacks may be more concerned with having an attack when there is no one around to give them adequate assistance.

When someone who has panic disorder starts feeling anxious about leaving areas where help for an attack could be quickly accessed, agoraphobia may develop. Many people who have agoraphobia are afraid to leave their homes, which they consider safe and calming. Others, however, can leave their homes but are afraid to be out in the open or away from people they believe can comfort them during an attack.

Coming Up Next Week

In the second part of this series, specific research on panic attacks and panic disorder will be discussed.

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