It is reported that over 3M American citizens suffer from the condition known as panic disorder, a condition that causes feelings of acute anxiety and fear and as a result can significantly interfere with one’s day-to-day life such as travelling, going to work, or even simply leaving the house. The major characteristic of panic disorder is the panic attacks itself i.e. a sudden and very overwhelming sensation of terror and fear that engulfs one anytime of day or night. Many people suffering from the panic disorder are also reported to have the attacks accompanied by many physical sensations.
The reason why people suffering from panic disorder are afraid to get out of the house is because of the fear of getting a panic attack while outside. Many people live with continuous worry about future panic attacks, or rather they are always convinced that there condition is a sign of serious life-threatening emotional, mental, or physical problems. Panic disorder although mild from the start can become a very debilitating condition lasting from a few months to several years if medical attention is not sought out early enough.
Types of Panic Disorder
Panic disorder can be classed into two – one with agoraphobia and the other one without. Agoraphobia is described as extreme avoidance or fear that someone suffering from panic disorder associates with apprehension and severe anxiety. As such, someone suffering from a panic disorder with agoraphobia will rarely leave the house because of very intense fears and anxiety. It is estimated that at least 26% of people suffering from panic disorder also are reported from suffering from agoraphobia.
Cause of Panic Disorder
It is yet to be known with certainty the real cause of panic disorder, but as with other medical conditions whose cause is unknown, there are several theories regarding the matter. Some of the possible contributing factors of panic attacks have been reported to be:-
One of the contributing factors to panic disorder is genetics in the sense that if you have someone in your family lineage suffering from the condition, you are twice as likely to get the disorder yourself. Further, women tend to be more genetically predisposed to develop the disorder than their male counterparts.
The condition can also develop after a major ‘stressful’ event in life. Transitional events such as the birth of a kid, marriage, divorce, graduation from the university, death of a loved one, separation can trigger some bouts of panic attack. Separation and loss of a loved one are particularly associated with the onset of the condition.
There is reason to believe, well at least according to researchers, that panic disorder may be triggered by a physiological dysfunction in the human brain. There is a brain organ known as amygdale that is responsible for triggering your response in fear. It is because of the fact that people suffering from panic attacks have an unusually low baseline in this brain organ that causes unexplainable and sudden fear reactions.
The Prevalence of Panic Disorder
Statistics indicate that one in every seventy five people is affected by panic disorder, with women being more prone to the condition than men. Panic disorder basically starts between ages 18 and 24 and in most cases will always disappear after several months of counselling.
Panic attack symptoms
According to the medical journal, a panic attack is defined as an impulsive increase in fear and panic that peaks in 5-10 minutes and which is accompanied by a minimum of 4 physical sensations, which might include:
- Shortness of breath/difficulty in breathing
- Tightness in the chest
- Chest pains
- Tightness in the throat and experiencing difficulties when swallowing
- Chills or hot flashes
- Racing heartbeat
- Nausea and/or dizziness
- Fear of going crazy, losing control of yourself, or/and fear of dying
Panic Disorder Complications
At least 50-60 per cent of individuals suffering from panic disorder report depression, and a further one in every five patients will have attempted suicide. Further, there seem to be a correlation between panic disorder and substance abuse, with about 35% of the patients suffering from this disorder having reported issues with alcohol and/or drugs
Treating panic Disorder
There are several treatment and medications available in the market today that treat panic disorder. These treatments, sometimes used in combination or on their own, have proven very effective in combating the condition. At least 70% of people suffering from panic disorder will report significant positive changes in their recovery efforts, and a further 20% will report full recovery from using these treatments. Counselling and psychotherapy has also proven very effective in treating panic disorder, and mild bouts of panic attacks can disappear within several weeks of comprehensive guidance and counselling. Thus you should consult with your doctor to find out more about the different treatment options available for panic disorder.