What is Panic Disorder?

Panic attacks happen when, for some reason, your body goes into the ?fight or flight? response to a perceived danger. These attacks come on without warning and can last several minutes or longer. The cause for such an attack may be unseen and unknown. When panic attacks occur on a regular basis, you may have what is known as panic disorder.

Panic disorder is a result of recurrent panic attacks. In other words, panic attacks can create a snowball effect which can lead to panic disorder over time.

Since panic attacks can last for some time, even up to an hour, the growing fear while experiencing the attack is ingrained in the mind. Every time you think about what you experienced, it creates the irrational fear that you are doomed to have another one. This all-consuming thought can actually be a self-fulfilling prophecy as the fear of having a panic attack can actually cause more panic attacks. 

Along with the fear of having another panic attack, many people believe they are going crazy when they experience panic attacks repeatedly. The symptoms of a panic attack are such that you think you are having everything from a heart attack to hallucinations. Time will prove your thinking is wrong, but the diagnosis of panic attack is so often misdiagnosed, your fear of being mentally impaired begins to make sense to you.

Symptoms of Panic Attack and Panic Disorder

Don’t confuse these symptoms with normal butterflies in the pit of the tummy kind of situations. Your body actually believes that you are in peril for some reason. Over time, with no other outside influence, you begin to believe it, too. The symptoms of both panic attack and panic disorder are basically the same.

The most common symptoms of Panic Attack and Disorder are:

  • hyperventilation
  • tightness or pain in the chest
  • sweating
  • fast heart beat
  • shaking

Symptoms more often seen in a person with Panic Disorder are:

  • need to escape the situation
  • chills, numbness or tingling
  • light-headedness and/or upset stomach
  • fear of dying or detachment from reality

Maybe you have seen people breathing in to paper bags for anxiety attacks on television shows. Let?s avoid that shall we? First of all, there is hardly ever a paper bag around when you need one. Secondly, breathing in all of that carbon dioxide can result in dizziness.

Panic disorder symptoms are often similar to the symptoms of many other conditions. And, in the midst of an attack, you will grasp for the most obvious conditions that you think are responsible. Your symptoms may mimic other illnesses and conditions like: heart problems, irritable bowel syndrome, angina and stroke.

Only a medical exam can rule these out to the satisfaction that you won?t consider them anymore. If you are suffering from panic attacks now, visit your health care professional to get a thorough check up. When panic attacks escalate, become more and more frequent, panic disorder needs to be discussed. Fear of the unknown will increase the panic attacks, whereas knowledge of this condition will help to relieve your panic attacks and, eventually, your panic disorder.

More health articles about: Mind & Body, Panic Disorders