Docstoc

Panic Disorder

Document Sample
Panic Disorder Powered By Docstoc
					                              Panic Disorder

What is Panic Disorder ?

Panic Disorder is one of the anxiety disorders. It is characterized by having
experiences of intense fear and physical symptoms such as sweating and heart
palpitation (i.e., panic attacks) that come suddenly within few minutes without
warning or any obvious reasons. Although they occur in situations that are
usually not threatening, people with panic disorder may feel terrify and worry if
they are having a heart attack, going “crazy” or even going to die. They also have
persistent fear of having future panic attacks and avoid situations that they
believe the attacks are likely to occur again. Such worries and avoidance can
cause significant impairment on their daily functioning.


What are the causes of Panic Disorder ?

A number of factors may be involved in the causes of panic disorders. Stressful
life events and major life transitions, such as long-term unemployment, loss of a
loved one can trigger panic disorders. Initially, when people are under
considerable stress, the brain’s normal mechanism for reacting to a threat is
activated. This is the so-called “flight-or-fight” response. Nonetheless, as such
attacks seem to come “out of the blue”, they are usually interpreted as signs of
life-threatening disease or “going crazy”. Subsequently, when mild bodily
responses to external triggers (like exercising, caffeine consumption) were
realized, some people develop an intense apprehension of having another attack
and such heightened anxiety then could actually bring on a panic attack.


Do I have Panic Disorder ?

Panic disorder is marked by recurrent, spontaneous panic attacks and constant
worry about having another attack or the cause of the attack. A panic attack is a
sudden and intense period of fear or discomfort that comes without any reasons
or signals. During the attack, at least 4 or more of the following symptoms are
experienced:

1)    Quick or pounding heart rate
2)    Sweating
3)    Shaking
4)    Difficult to breathe
5)     Shortness of breath or choking
6)     Chest pain or discomfort
7)     Nausea
8)     Dizziness, sense of going to faint
9)     Hots and chills
10)    Tingling sensation or numbness over limbs
11)    Derealization or depersonalization
12)    Fear of dying
13)    Fear of losing control, going crazy


The Course of Panic Disorder ?

Having the experience of first one or two panic attacks, some people will start to
worry about having the coming back of panic attacks. These worries may also be
specific to where the first attack took places, e.g. at confounding places like
inside the tunnel or elevators, or crowded situations like a busy shopping mall.
They then begin to avoid these situations, going outdoors or going out alone and
develop “agoraphobia”. These are mainly because they have to avoid all
situations that can trigger an attack or situation they might not be able to get help.
Subsequently, the quality of life, including their social life and work, can be
severely affected by the disorder.


What are the treatments to Panic Disorder ?

1)     Medication
       Some anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications are used to treat
       panic disorders. You should seek professional advice from doctors for the
       use of medications.

2)     Psychological Treatment
       Cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT) is empirically one of the best
       psychological treatments to panic disorder and agoraphobia. In CBT, one
       of the most frequently used techniques is exposure therapy. The main
       objective in exposure is to deal with the situational avoidance and actual
       physical sensations in panic attacks. Patients will learn to face and
       manage those situations they previously avoided (e.g. crowded areas or
       elevators) by in vivo exposure; or handle the panic symptoms by
       interoceptive exposure. In addition, relaxation training and cognitive
       restructuring on the appraisals towards panic attacks are also major parts
       of psychological treatment.

				
DOCUMENT INFO