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Panic Disorder

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder or otherwise known as panic attacks is a sudden episode that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no actual or real danger or apparent cause.


Panic attacks are known to be frightening, as the one who is experiencing it can have claims of feeling like they’re loosing control, having a heart attack or even dying. Many people can go through life with just having one or two, others however that have recurring episodes, and live in fear of another attack are known to have the condition called panic disorder.


Panic attacks usually occur with no warning. They can happen at any time of the day and during any type of activity. Panic attacks don’t always occur in the same way, but it’s found that the symptoms of a panic attack usually start to peak around 10 minutes. Panic attacks will usually contain a few or many of the following symptoms:
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Chills
  • Hot flashes
  • Fear of loss of control or death
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Faintness
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Shortness of breath
Panic attacks can lead to an intense fear that you’ll have another one. This fear can cause you to keep away from situations where they could occur. You may even get the feeling as if you’re unable to leave your home (agoraphobia) because no place feels safe.


It’s not known what causes panic attacks, or panic disorder. These factors may contribute to the condition:

  • Genetics
  • Major stress
  • Changes in the way parts of your brain function
  • Temperament that is more susceptible to stress


The main treatment options for panic attacks are psychotherapy and medications. Both methods are effective. Depending on the severity of your panic disorder and attacks your doctor will likely suggest one or both methods of treatment. Psychotherapy This method is also known as talk or behavior therapy, it’s considered to be an effective first choice treatment for panic attacks and disorder. Psychotherapy helps you to understand your panic attacks and disorder, and how to cope with them.  Cognitive behavioral therapy may help you learn through your own experience that panic symptoms aren’t as dangerous as it may seem. During therapy sessions, your therapist will assist you in gradually re-creating the symptoms of a panic attack in a safe, supportive environment. Once the physical sensations of panic are no longer threatening, the attacks begin to resolve. Successful treatment can also aid you in overcoming fears of situations that you've been avoiding due to the panic attacks. Medications Medications are given to help reduce the symptoms felt before, during, and after an attack. There are multiple types of medications that have been shown to improve management of these symptoms. Some of these medications include:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. These are usually safe with a low risk of serious side effects. Antidepressants are often recommended as the first choice of medication to treat panic attacks.
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. This medication is another class of antidepressants. The drug called venlafaxine hydrochloride (Effexor XR) is FDA approved for the treatment use of panic disorders.
  • Benzodiazepines. Is classified as a mild sedative that belongs to a group of medicines known to be central nervous system depressants. If you seek care in an emergency room for signs and symptoms of a panic attack, you may be given a benzodiazepine to help stop the attack.
If one medication doesn’t work well for you, your doctor may suggest switching to another or adding certain medications to increase the effectiveness. It may take several weeks after first starting a medication before seeing improvements. All medications do contain risks and side effects, and may not be suggested in certain situations, such as pregnancy.

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