Panic disorder is a very real condition that manifests itself in a number of different ways. Just listen to a few fictional hypothetical examples from people who suffer from this illness:
My body starts to quiver and shake. I seem to be having an out-of body experience. When I am put in a situation I do not feel I can control, I can quickly lapse into a full-fledged panic attack. My heart races and I gasp to allow my lungs to take in some much-needed oxygen. In the moment, I just want to curl up in a ball and wait for the attack to go away.
It all began about a decade ago when my college and academic career was over that I suffered my first real panic attack. The safety of a campus environment and no real responsibilities was over. As I sat listening to a boring presentation that I was ordered to attend by my new boss at my new job, I started to sweat and feel really uncomfortable. At the most intense point, I convinced myself that death would be a better alternative than this agony.
I need help! I realize that it is not normal to have these repeated panic attacks. My condition has become so severe that I rarely venture away from the security of my small apartment. Where can I find tranquility?
The symptoms of this medically acknowledged illness manifest themselves through many physical symptoms. While everybody has their moments when they panic, this illness is defined by its completely debilitating effects. The good news is there are ways to deal with the problem and people who can help you lead a normal life.
Attacks come on without warning. It is not something that you build up in your mind all day. You may break out in a sweat, have heart palpitations, feel faint or dizzy, have sweaty palms and want to throw up. These are real physiological manifestations that indicate something is wrong. Most cases are caused by an irrational fear of having no control of a bad situation and being forced to suffer the consequences.
One common characteristic of individuals who suffer panic attacks is that they convince themselves that they are actually going crazy, having a stroke or some other serious medical malady. They may even think they are going to die. These attacks are unpredictable and can cause a person to live in constant fear of another attack occurring in the near future.
Approximately one in 50 Americans or about 6 million people suffer from panic attacks. About 4 million of the 6 million who experience the condition are women. Predicting whether a panic attack is a onetime occurrence or will become a more serious panic disorder is hard to do. Research has shown that heredity plays a significant role in determining who will fall victim to this disorder.
A mild attack is not terribly hard to deal with, but a full-blown panic attack can render a person totally helpless. A person may be frozen and unable to move or actually react in a way that could cause them injury. Many people prone to such disabling occurrences take precautionary steps to avoid putting themselves in situations where a panic attack could have serious consequences.
They may retreat from interacting with other people and actually become quite antisocial. It is not that they hate people, but the overwhelming fear causes them to avoid confrontation and any potentially upsetting situations. In advanced cases, people may also be diagnosed with agoraphobia or the fear of open spaces.
It is quite common for individuals with panic disorders to also suffer from other mental or emotional problems. Depression, appetite changes, sleeping disorders, lack of concentration, and lethargy are all closely related.
The good news is that there are treatments such as psychotherapy, medication and behavioral modifications that can help anyone with this type of anxiety. One should never give up because panic attacks are a very treatable condition. There is help out there.
If you are suffering from panic attacks, therapy or counseling may be able to help you.