Panic Disorder

by Sam Malone


Panic disorder refers to a mental condition that causes intense and repeated panic attacks. Panic disorder is one form of anxiety disorder. In Psychopathology, a panic attack is defined as an abrupt experience of intense fear or acute discomfort accompanied by physical symptoms that usually include heart palpitations, chest pain, shortness of breath and dizziness. These people always feel they have a serious medical problem and will always seek medical advice. Medication becomes the important factor in these people. Because of this they tend to live a miserable life and upset their health. There are three types of panic attacks. They are unsituationally bound, unexpected and situationally bound. Unexpected and situationally bound attacks are important in panic disorder.Occurence of unexpected panic attack is required for a panic disorder. An unexpected panic attack is defined as one that is not associated with a situational trigger i.e out of blue. Panic disorder are to some extent related to Generalized anxiety disorder.

To meet criteria for panic disorder a person must experience unexpected panic attack and develop substantial anxiety. The panic attack lasts for few minutes or an hour or more. They may avoid certain place or neglect their duties around the house for fear that an attack might occur if they are too active. Panic disorder continue for several months or years if untreated.

Inheritance plays a major role in determining panic disorder. The disorder is also accompanied by bipolar disorder and alcoholism. Other factors such as environment, stressful life events and medications lead to panic attacks. Post traumatic stress disorder patients too show symptoms of panic disorder. Anxiety develops due to inner conflict and unconscious feelings ,leading to panic attacks.

Treatment for panic disorder include medications such as antidepressants. Medications are used to break the psychological connection between panic attacks and specific phobia. Along with medication Psychotherapy plays an important role in the treatment of panic disorder. Therapy such as cognitive- behavioral therapy help the patient to learn the negative thoughts and replace them to more positive ones. Sometimes people with this disorder need treatment for other related emotional problems such as depression, alcoholism, fear and stress. The treatment for these problems include journaling, i.e. recording day to day activities and emotions in a book and then working on those life stressors. Also stress management programs and stress relieving techniques such as yoga, physical exercises and music therapy help to relieve anxiety and panic attacks. Family counseling help the family members to deal with the problem effectively.


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