Panic disorder: signs, reasons, treatment

A panic disorder is defined 
as recurrent and sudden panic
 episodes that occur for no apparent cause.


A panic episode is characterized by a rapid burst of extreme dread or discomfort that peaks within minutes. 

Panic disorder is distinguished by recurring, sudden panic episodes that occur without warning or clear reason. It is a widespread mental health disorder that often begins in early adulthood, with women being more vulnerable. It may have an impact on a person’s family, job, or school life if left untreated. 


 Once a panic attack begins, it cannot be halted; symptoms emerge rapidly, peak in a few minutes, and may persist up to 20 minutes. People suffering from panic disorder experience – 

  1. Anxiety or panic that is sudden and acute apprehension about death or imminent disaster 
  2. Feelings of powerlessness and loss of control, as well as persistent worry about when the next assault may occur 
  3. Depersonalisation is defined as a separation from oneself and emotions of unreality. 
  4. Fear of returning to locations where they have previously had panic episodes.  
  5. Heart rate increase, perspiration, and chills 
  6. Hand trembling, weakness, and numbness 
  7. Breathing difficulties, chest discomfort, and a dry mouth 
  8. Stomach ache and the desire to use the restroom 
  9. Individuals who are severely afflicted have panic attacks many times each week, while others have them once or twice a month. 




  •  Panic disorder, like most other mental health illnesses, is caused by a mix of psychological, physical, and environmental variables. They might be as a result of: 
  • A brain chemical imbalance including neurotransmitters such as serotonin and cortisol. 
  • Certain areas of the brain are hyperexcitable in certain people. 
  • Adverse childhood experiences, or the pain of losing a loved one. 
  • Genetics: the likelihood of developing it rises if a near relative has panic disorder.  
  • Some individuals are very sensitive to high quantities of carbon dioxide and may develop a panic attack if they breathe such air.
  • Minor physical signs are misinterpreted as catastrophic occurrences, resulting in an excessive nervous system reaction and a panic attack. 




It is critical to distinguish between a panic attack and a panic disorder. Some individuals get panic attacks when they are exposed to a particular trigger, such as public speaking, enclosed areas, or heights. These phobias are prevalent, however they do not qualify as a panic condition.  

Only when someone suffers frequent and sudden panic episodes for no apparent cause, and is continually frightened about the next attack for roughly a month, is panic disorder diagnosed. As a result, a thorough examination of symptoms is required for accurate diagnosis.  

A physical check is also conducted to rule out any other medical disorders that may be causing similar symptoms.  



When treating panic disorder, the two goals are to lessen the intensity of symptoms and the frequency of panic episodes. The majority of individuals need psychological counseling in addition to drugs. The ultimate treatment strategy is determined by the severity of the ailment and the overall health of the afflicted individuals. 


Psychological therapy 

CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is an effective treatment for panic disorder. Multiple sessions are normally necessary, during which the therapist questions about an individual’s thoughts and behaviors during a panic attack. The conversation will center on identifying negative ideas and beliefs and replacing them with more sensible ones. Individuals are also taught how to deal with future episodes via behavioral changes such as breathing methods.
Support groups may also be beneficial since they allow people to meet with others who are experiencing similar problems.


Helping oneself  


  •  Aside from drugs, several activities may assist to keep the mind and body calm – 
  • Yoga, breathing exercises, massage, and aromatherapy all aid in mental relaxation. 
  • Cycling, walking, or any other modest exercise relieves stress. 
  • Exercises that strengthen the hips, back, abdomen, and shoulders. 
  • A well-balanced diet that excludes sugary foods, alcohol, and smoking.
  •  During a panic attack, there are a few ways that may aid afflicted persons. 
  • It is advised not to move during an assault and to pull over to the side while driving a car. 
  • During an attack, focusing on something ordinary and non-threatening can help you cope with disturbing ideas. 
  • Slow, deep breathing will assist to reduce anxiety and promote calm. 
  • Distracting yourself with positive ideas and pictures of serene surroundings might assist. 
  • When a panic attack occurs, do not attempt to oppose or battle it; instead, wait for it to pass. 





Antidepressant medications – These medications become effective after a few weeks, so it is critical to continue taking them even if they do not seem to be working. There are two antidepressants that are regularly administered –  Panic disorder is typically treated with Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). 

They function by increasing the concentration of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Symptoms often worsen before improving, and these medications are begun at a low dosage and progressively raised. Even after they are stopped, the dosage is progressively reduced. They may induce impaired vision, lack of libido, headaches, sweating, and sleep disturbances.

If symptoms do not improve after a 12-week treatment of SSRIs, tricyclic antidepressants are prescribed. These medications also modulate serotonin levels, improve mood, and induce good sensations. However, they have greater negative effects than SSRIs, at least until the body adjusts to the medication.

Antiepileptic medicines are prescribed to treat epilepsy (fits) as well as anxiety and panic disorder. They have their own set of adverse effects that must be monitored on a regular basis. 

Panic disorder may have a substantial impact on one’s quality of life and often leads to severe despair, as well as an increased risk of alcoholism and drug misuse. Fortunately, in most situations, panic disorder may be adequately treated. Once the individual recognizes that the symptoms are not life-threatening, they may learn to manage with assaults more effectively. 

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