Panic disorder is different from the normal fear and anxiety reactions to stressful events. Panic disorder is a serious condition that strikes without reason or warning. Symptoms of panic disorder include sudden attacks of fear and nervousness, as well as physical symptoms such as sweating and a racing heart. During a panic or anxiety attack, the fear response is out of proportion for the situation, which often is not threatening. Over time, a person with panic disorder can develop fear of having another panic attack, or ‘anticipatory fear’, which can affect daily functioning and general quality of life.
A person with panic disorder may become discouraged and feel ashamed because he or she cannot carry out normal routines like going to the grocery store or driving. Having panic disorder can also interfere with school, quality family and social life or work.
Symptoms of a panic attack, which often last about 10 minutes, include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Pounding heart or chest pain
- Intense feeling of dread
- Sensation of choking or smothering
- Dizziness or feeling faint
- Trembling or shaking
- Nausea or stomachache
- Tingling or numbness in the fingers and toes
- Chills or hot flashes
- A fear that you are losing control or are about to die
Treatment for panic disorder can include medicine but the bulk of the work focuses on managing the symptoms through relaxation exercises and cognitive retraining with opportunities to identify specific triggers for panic. Finally, the individual is enabled to directly confront the anxiety producing situation safely and render the paralyzing fear into disappearance.
Information provided by webmd.com