What is Panic Disorder?

Panic disorder is characterized by out of the blue attacks of fear that last for several minutes. These are called panic attacks and are typically associated with a strong physical reaction (e.g. racing heart, shortness of breath, dizziness) which peaks within 10 minutes of starting. Panic attacks are characterized by a fear of losing control or another catastrophic event happening. People with panic attacks often start to avoid places or situations (agoraphobia) where these attacks have occurred which can become very disabling. Early treatment is helpful in preventing agoraphobic avoidance.

What are the signs/symptoms of Panic Disorder?

  • Out of the blue panic attacks
  • Physical symptoms during panic attacks such as racing heart, hot flashes, feelings of weakness/dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, numbness/tingling in hands/feet
  • Feeling out of control during a panic attack
  • Worries about having another panic attack
  • A fear or avoidance of places where panic attacks have occurred in the past or where escape might be difficult

Take the Panic Disorder screening here

What treatments are available for Panic Disorder?

Panic disorder can be treated with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of the two. Some people find therapy more helpful while others prefer medications or a combination of the two.

Psychotherapy-A specific type of psychotherapy called cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is especially helpful for treating panic disorder. CBT helps individuals in how they react, think about and behave in response to anxiety provoking situations which helps in reducing axiety and fear.

Medication-Doctors also may prescribe medication to help treat panic disorder such as antidepressant medication. Antidepressants are used to treat depression, but they also are helpful for panic disorder. They may take several weeks to start working and some of these medications may infrequently cause side effects.

Want to learn more about Panic Disorder?

Contact us to hear more about current studies we are conducting at: 1-866-44-WORRY or anxietystudy@partners.org

Visit the Anxiety and Depression Association of America website: https://www.adaa.org/

Visit the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies website: http://www.abct.org/

Visit the NIMH website: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/panic-disorder/index.shtml



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