Anxiety Disorders

What is Panic Disorder?

Panic Disorder involves repeated panic attacks and accompanying worries. Panic attacks can occur suddenly and can, within a relatively short amount of time, lead to uncomfortable physical symptoms such as a racing pulse, shortness of breath, dizziness, shakiness, and other symptoms. A major feature of Panic Disorder is that panic attacks are common enough that they can cause anticipation or worry about having more attacks. The attacks (and concern about the attacks) interfere with daily functioning and can often cause one to make choices to limit the potential of having additional attacks. For example, when preparing to enter environments which can be expected to increase anxiety, the individual may feel the need to have a companion with them.

Panic Attacks and Other Anxiety-Related Disorders

While panic attacks can be fairly common, Panic Disorder is less common. Panic attacks alone may not indicate the presence of Panic Disorder since they can also be a symptom of other anxiety-related disorders including Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and Agoraphobia. Consistent worrying in general, fear of social interactions, and feeling uncomfortable in public places can all be associated with panic attacks. 

Understanding Where Your Panic Attacks Come From

Panic attacks can be confusing and disorienting. As the physical symptoms associated with panic attacks can come on suddenly and strongly, it can be common to not know what, if anything, caused the symptoms. In severe situations, an individual can feel like they are going crazy or going to die. Working with a therapist, medical provider, or another qualified mental health professional can help to shed light on any patterns related to the onset of your panic attacks. When psychological testing is needed to evaluate the source of the panic attacks, it is important to consider that the attacks could be coming from one of a variety of potential disorders. Testing for Panic Disorder may include self-report questionnaires, an in-depth interview, and an analysis of your personal history, among other things. In some cases, it becomes clear that another disorder, instead of Panic Disorder, is to blame. If the testing indicates that Panic Disorder is causing the panic attacks, this information can help to guide your treatment and illuminate strategies you can undertake to counteract your attacks. For some individuals, the beginning phase of Panic Disorder can be associated with the greatest level of personal concern. As you work to understand more about your condition and find ways to manage your symptoms, the impact of Panic Disorder can significantly decrease.      

Explore Related Topics:

What is Anxiety?
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder
Which Type of Anxiety is Causing the Problem?
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