Everything You Want To Know About Panic Disorders
Panic disorders are characterized as unexpected and frequent panic attacks (episodes of overwhelming fear) that can persist for a couple of minutes or more. If you suffer from a panic disorder you may experience reoccurring panic attacks that prevents you from performing your daily routines such as: going to work, picking up your children at school and/or preparing meals.
You may hide your condition for fear of being stigmatized or shunned by those around you. Panic disorders can affect all areas of your life, from your relationships and self-esteem to your work performance. This condition typically arises during adolescences, but can occur later in life, for instance, during middle adulthood. Research suggests that panic disorders occur more frequently in women than men.
Signs and Symptoms
In some cases, your panic attacks may decrease or stop all together, without any other complications. You should not worry if you only have one or two panic attacks, however if you experience reoccurring panic attacks combined with behavioral changes and extreme anxiety, then you should seek counsel from a qualified mental health professional.
You may be suffering from panic disorder if:
You suffer from chronic, recurrent panic attacks that are not associated with a specific event or circumstance.
You are worry excessively about having another panic attack
Your behavior has changed because of your frequent panic attacks. For instance, you may avoid driving because you typically have your panic attacks when you drive or you avoid social events because you tend to experience panic attacks at parties and/or social events.
It is important to note that while panic attacks may only last a few minutes, the emotional effects can persist throughout your life. For instance, a panic attack can trigger an intense fear of a certain situation. In addition, an untreated panic disorder can negatively affect your self-esteem and self-confidence, which can prevent you from having a normal life.
Panic disorder symptoms may include the following
Defensive anxiety – If you suffer from defensive anxiety, you feel apprehensive and/or fearful because you are always afraid that you will have another panic attack. This type of anxiety can negatively affect your quality of life.
Phobia-Related Avoidance – If you suffer from phobia-related avoidance, you avoid certain environments because you are afraid that they will trigger reoccurring panic attacks. Moreover, you avoid certain situations, because you are afraid that you will not be able to get away if you need to, therefore triggering a panic attack
The exact causes of panic disorder are unknown at this time, but genetics appear to play a significant role in its development and progression. Other significant life changes and stressors such as: having a baby, getting married, getting divorced, experiencing a death in the family, starting a new job and/or graduating from school can also trigger repeated panic attacks and/or panic disorder. Furthermore, chronic medical conditions have also been known to trigger panic attacks and/or panic disorder
The good news is that panic disorder is a treatable condition. Research suggests that a combination of psychotherapy and medication can help reduce or eliminate panic attacks, lower your risk of panic disorder and improve your quality of life
Psychotherapies that are beneficial for panic attacks and/or panic disorder include:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy is considered the most effective treatment for chronic panic attacks and panic disorders. This approach helps you understand how your thought processes and behaviors trigger your panic attacks. A cognitive behavioral therapist helps reduce your panic attacks by teaching you how to change how you perceive certain situations. In other words, your therapist teaches you how to identify your triggers and reframe the situation in a positive light so that you no longer feel apprehensive when coming in contact with challenging and/or stressful situations.
Exposure therapy has also shown success when treating chronic panic attacks and panic disorder. During exposure therapy, you are repeatedly exposed to your panic-related triggers (in a safe and secure setting) with the hope that you will eventually become desensitized to them. The purpose of this approach is to teach you healthier ways to cope with difficult and challenging situations. Eventually, with repeated exposure to your triggers, you will become less sensitive to the situations and/or environments that evoke extreme fear in you. The main goal is to help you regain control of your emotions and, therefore reduce and/or eliminate your panic attacks.
Medications are often used in conjunction with psychotherapy. A variety of anti-anxiety medications, such as antidepressants and benzodiazepines, can help manage, reduce and/or eliminate symptoms associated with panic disorders. It is important to note that medications alone cannot cure panic attacks and/or panic disorders, but they are beneficial in extreme cases of panic disorder.
National Institute of Mental Health. (2012). Panic disorder: When fear overwhelms. Retrieved from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/panic- disorder-when-fear-overwhelms/introduction.shtml.
Shipko, S. (2003). Surviving panic disorder: What you need to know. Author House.
Ways to cope with anxiety
This is just basically from my experience, and what has helped me. So..I hope it can help you too c:
- Reading - Reading allows you to focus on something completely different. To read, you must think about what you are reading; every word, every sentence, therefore your “fear” will be put off for at least a few seconds. As you read more, the seconds change to minutes, and so on.
- Aromatherapy - Certain candles, oils, even body soaps for the shower, are made to relieve stress and bring a more calming sense on. Of course, it doesn’t bring on strong relief, I’ve noticed that it helps relax me more at night.
- Hobbies - Whether you enjoy drawing, writing, playing an instrument, sport, ect. they give you something to focus on & give your interest to. Since my second round of anxiety has started in my life, I’ve taken up playing the guitar and photography, which gives me something to focus on.
- Better Diet - Better dieting helps your over all health. From experience, my anxiety increases when I’m eating unhealthy foods constantly, or barely eating at all.
- Making Others Aware - From my experience, it’s a lot easier when people know your situation. Of course at first you automatically think “they’re going to think I’m a freak”, but most of my friends/family members have learned to accept it and help me to get through an panic attack.
- Keeping a Journal - I’m not someone to put my thoughts on paper, but after you are able to see what you have overcome in the past, it can help you find new ways to overcome future struggles. Not to mention, there’s just somethings you don’t like telling others, and just need to get your thoughts/feelings out.
- Therapy - Going to therapy doesn’t mean you’re crazy. Of course it’s scary at first, because with anxiety, everything is scary. Believe it or not, having someone to share your direct thoughts to helps because they can give you good coping ways/thought habits /specifically/ for you.
- Random conversations help too, and I’m always up for making new friends/random convos. so feel free to message me :D
Sometimes I feel like my agoraphobia will never go away, and that my days of enjoying life outside the house— where I can be free, are over forever.
But…I want to accomplish alot in life. I don’t want to give up. Just earlier I felt like crying and yelling “Whats the point!?”
It’ll get better, though. Each week it gets a bit better. I have my good days, and my bad days.
Some days I want to go out and explore the world, or.. explore the small circle I can roam without panicing, and there’s the days where I don’t want to leave and just stay inside.
Some days I also feel pathetic, like a child, or like a total loser. Sometimes I say, “What type of person who isn’t a child has a fear such as mine?” right? Wrong
If there’s anyone else dealing with agoraphobia, GAD, or any other type of anxiety/panic disorder— It’ll get better. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, or even within a few months.
But you’ll get your life back someday, as long as you have hope and continue fighting.
in response to the anxiety/panic resource post
from a lovely follower who has a panic disorder, as well as major depression and PTSD:
i would just caution that obsessively researching panic disorders can be a really dangerous hole for people who really suffer from them. like i used to make myself really sick just reading about panic disorders for hours straight - even the thought of it now is overwhelming. my point is that i would urge anyone who really thinks they might be dealing with a panic disorder to find someone to talk to in person rather than research it online. it’s a self-destructive obsessive impulse and it’s like you’re going to learn something you didn’t know…
p.s. as my best friend i’ve never met says, “mental ILLness, as in the way the beastie boys used the word ILL.” (you can use that) <3
So I made an anxiety disorder/panic attack support/information blog. It is called thefearfulmind. I’m REALLY trying to get it off it’s feet a little SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO yeah.
CHECK IT OUT?
YOU DON’T HAVE TO FOLLOW JUST CHECK IT OUT AND SPREAD THE WORD.
I suffer from severe anxiety and have GAD, and suffer from relatively frequent panic attacks. This blog is really personal and I know that I really want to help people who are lost,
scared frightened, and don’t know what to do. I’ve been there before and I KNOW how incredibly frightening it is and I just want to make it a little easier for people.
PLEASE HELP ME GET THE WORD OUT. PEOPLE DESERVE TO KNOW THEY AREN’T ALONE AND DESERVE TO HAVE SUPPORT.
And in case you are thinking this isn’t a big deal, here are some facts for you:
- One in four adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year… about 58 million people (NIHM). Of those disorders, anxiety disorders are the most common, affecting 40 million adults in the United States - 18 years and older(ADAA)
- Anxiety disorders are actually very treatable, however only about one-third of those suffering recieve treatment(ADAA)
- Anxiety disorders develop from several complex risk factors, some of which include genetics, brain chemistry, personality and certain life events(ADAA)
- People with an anxiety disorder are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor, and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than those who do not suffer from an anxiety disorder.(ADAA)
- Women are twice as likely to be affected by GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) then men(ADA
- The risk of GAD is highest between childhood and middle age, and comes on gradually and can begin across the life cycle.(ADAA)
- The lifetime prevalence of anxiety in children between 13-18 years out is 25.1%. Thats one in four people. 5.9% of these children have severe anxiety disorder. (NIHM)
- In the United States population, about 1/2 of adults suffer from a severe anxiety disorder (NIHM)
If this isn’t enough information to convince you that this is important, then I don’t know what to say. Do you know how many people I have talked through a panic attack because they aren’t properly educated or don’t know what to do? It’s truly frightening quite honestly, and many people don’t say or do ANYTHING because they don’t think it’s important.
Well, it is.
Your anxiety IS important. It IS real, and it CAN be reduced and there ARE people who can help you. I want to be one of them.
'Dealing with Panic Attacks & Anxiety'
^I just stumbled across this video by this girl called Zoella on youtube. For anyone (including myself) who suffers from Panic Attacks, Panic Disorders, Anxiety, etc, or even knows anyone who has to deal with them, I seriously recommend you watch this. She talks about her experience with Panic Attacks and Anxiety and how she’s been dealing with them for the past 9 years. She’s amazing and spot-on about everything, the advice she gives is just. omg. It’s beyond helpful!!
I really advise you watch it, it’s helped me so much knowing I’m not going through this on my own, and that they’re other people out there that understand, thankyou so so so much Zoella, I’ve just subscribed to you!! :-)
I don’t know how many of you have panic disorders or anxiety disorders, and I also don’t know if you have been to this website, but just in case you haven’t it is pretty helpful. It’s got tips on breathing exercises and other ways to help alleviate panic attacks, as well as some other tips on helping keep yourself calm.
Good luck <3
Some helpful resources:
CLICK THE LINKS TO GO TO THE PAGE(IF LINK IS AVAILABLE)
If you know of a helpful resource that is not listed, please let me know and I will add it. :)
1) You Make Me Feel Less Alone at Blogspot: http://youmakemefeellessalone.blogspot.com/
The creator is author Samantha Schutz, a wonderful and beautiful young woman who, also, suffers from an panic disorder.
2) I Don’t Want to be Crazy book by Samantha Schutz
3) Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA): http://www.adaa.org/
4) Go Ask Alice: http://www.goaskalice.columbia.edu/Cat4.html
Less 'Iron' Man, more 'Man', but still Iron Man
Without giving anything away I wanted to mention someone with panic attacks, who is open about it, and who is loved by so many: Iron Man. Yes, last night I saw Iron Man three. I will just get this part over with: it was amazing! Go see it asap! But also, in the movie, he had many panic attacks. There was even a scene where he was on the phone with someone and they were telling him to take deep breaths, that everything was going to be okay. I couldn’t help but feel… proud… when watching this. This powerful, beloved, strong and, let’s be honest, incredibly hot guy gets panic attacks too, and guess what? He survives!!!
“In his real identity as Tony Stark, he drank too much, he slept with too many women. He’s a little more on the straight-and-narrow now, but he still has crippling anxiety attacks that leave him hyperventilating by the side of the road in a most un-heroic fashion.”
~~~ Although they do write that having panic attacks on the side of the road is “un-heroic”, and I very happy that they mention his panic attacks as a way of making him more human and less… Iron Man. (Don’t get me wrong, I love him as Iron Man.)
Here’s the article.
Have Faith, Or, My Anxiety Manifesto
Anxiety disorders affect 18% of the adult population of the US, making it the most common mental illness.
This is her experience.
Right now, I’m laid up on the futon in my pink Snuggie, still in my PJ’s, my dog Sydney curled up on my feet, smooth jazz on the stereo.
It’s been a long 48 hours. Yesterday was a bad panic day. You all know how it goes by now - chest pains and a racing heart leads to an ER visit, which leads to being hooked up to an EKG for two hours, which leads to finding nothing wrong, which leads to being discharged with a prescription and a referral. Yet another SSRI to try and yet another psychoanalyst that I can’t afford. It sucks.
But I don’t want to do another bitchy post about “wahhhh wahhh, my panic disorder”, so I’m going to do something else instead. I’m going to tell you a story about where this all started, where it went, and how it could have derailed my life if not for divine intervention.
Pull up a chair and get cozy, y’all. This might get long.
My mission on this blog is to provide a safe place for people who suffer from an anxiety disorder, panic attacks, etc to seek advice, get information, and to hopefully realize that they are not alone in this, that there are so many people who are going through the same thing.
Take me, for example.
I have suffered from anxiety practically my entire life, anxiety that gradually got worse as I got older. In around October-December of my senior year of high school I fell apart. My first attack was in the middle of my 3rd class of the day. I started feeling sick, nauseous, panicky. I ignored it, and that was a bad choice.
I sat through the rest of class with my anxiety slowly building up, like slowly filling up a water balloon. I could feel the weight of the anxiety pushing against me, pushing all other thoughts aside. I sat through lunch, the balloon of anxiety slowly filling up. I get to my last class and I’m pale and I’m trembling so hard I can barely stand. I kept telling myself that I was okay, that I was going to be fine. I was just tired.
But soon I began to realize that, no, I was not just tired. I was having an attack. But by the time I had realized this I was rocking in my chair, whimpering, shaking, hyperventilating slightly, sweating, and my mind was telling me that I was going to explode. That inside of me there was a bomb and I was going to explode. I kept hearing a ticking noise that wasn’t the clock. I was scared. I felt like I was going to die. I finally went to my teacher and told him that I needed to go to the bathroom, and when I got to a stall I started to completely flip out. The balloon had broken and the water that was once outside was now outside, and my tears from my complete and utter fear rolling past my chin and down my neck, I bit my arm so hard that it left bruises for days, all in an attempt to hold back my screams. I felt like I was on fire and that I was going to die and I was paralyzed with fear. I was convinced that I was going to die.
I had somehow managed to go back to class because I became afraid that someone would find me and put me in a hospital, but when I entered back in the room and felt the eyes of my classmates I almost shrieked. Don’t look at me don’t look at me don’t look at me! I supposed it was pure willpower that got me back to my seat without any incident.
But the ticking was back and I was once again a bomb. Water was still leaking from the balloon because tears still drifted across my face.
The next few hours were filled with sobbing, whimpering, at some points screaming, self harm, and countless other things. The fear that raged in my body and controlled my mind was powerful and frighteningly out of control. There was nobody with me. I had no help.
This was the beginning of the next few months of hell. It wasn’t until a month later was I finally put on anti anxiety/depression medication. It wasn’t until near Christmas did my days of mindless state of anxiety begin to fade and I was able to function as a person again.
So darlings, I know. I know what it feels like to spend days crying and hiding in your room because your too afraid of leaving, no, to afraid to leave your bed. I know how it feels when a medication doesn’t work and you are left helpless. I also know how it feels to go through withdrawal on medication, and how hard it is to ask for help and to be let down and betrayed when you trusted them with this humiliating aspect of yourself. I know how much this fucking hurts.
And thats why I want to be here for you.
For all of you. Or for as many people as I can.
So here is my pledge to you:
I promise you all that I will do my best to give the best support that I can.
I promise that I will be understanding and that I will listen.
I promise that I will do the best I can to make this easier.
I promise that you are not alone.
So darlings, thats my mission. And thats my vow.
Be safe. <3