What are Panic Disorders?

man with head down on stairwell

Paula had her first panic attack 5 months ago. She was at school preparing for a health science presentation and suddenly felt a wave of fear come over her. The entire room started spinning and she felt like vomiting. Paula felt dizzy, breathless, hot, and felt like she was going crazy. She called her partner to help relax her, but the event shook her pretty bad.

Paula had another intense panic attack about 2 weeks later, and she feels like they have been getting worse each time. She is afraid of having another panic attack, so she has been refraining from any of the extracurricular activities that she used to participate in. Paula is also scared to speak to her boss at work because she is afraid of having another panic attack.

A person who suffers from surprising panic attacks and is afraid of having them is considered as having a panic disorder.  According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, approximately 2-3% of Americans suffer from a panic disorder, and it most often occurs in women. Panic disorders are a form of anxiety disorder and can significantly impact daily life – from neglecting work responsibilities, to several doctor visits, to avoiding situations where the person may fear they will have a panic attack. Panic disorder may occur with depression, anxiety disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, or substance abuse. This can be very challenging for someone, especially if they have not been diagnosed yet.

When someone has a panic attack, their heart pounds, they feel like they can’t breathe, and the person may even feel like they are dying or going crazy. Panic attacks are so intense because they are often unexpected and leave the person feeling debilitated. A person has a panic disorder if they experience frequent panic attacks for no apparent reason, if they worry a lot about having another panic attack, and if they are behaving differently because of the panic attacks – such as missing out on fun activities.

Many people are afraid of seeking help for their panic attacks because they are afraid of stigma or being told that nothing is wrong. However, there are so many tools to help someone who suffers from this. Psychotherapy is a fantastic way to learn relaxation and imagery techniques. Discussing your irrational fears with your therapist could help you learn more about yourself and what you can do to possibly prevent panic attacks. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is another excellent tool used to treat panic disorders. This method will help you restructure your thinking to more positive, realistic thought scripts. If you suffer from a panic disorder, know that help is available to you. Speak with a doctor today to learn more about your options.

Residential treatment programs give you the time you need to focus on healing. Avalon Malibu is one of California’s only certified primary mental health treatment facility providing trusted programs with trusted results. For a confidential assessment and more information, call us today: 888-958-7511

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