Panic Disorder is a type of anxiety that involves short, intense periods of anxiety, known as panic attacks. Panic attacks can occur in different ways for different people, but they usually consist of a number of symptoms (listed below) that start quickly and usually last somewhere between 10 minutes up to about an hour. In Panic Disorder, a person who experiences a panic attack then goes on to either seriously worry about having another attack, and/or they change their lifestyle to avoid having another panic attack, such as avoiding the place where their first panic attack occurred.
Panic attacks are generally not threatening to physical health, though some medical conditions such as heart trouble could be worsened by a panic attack. It is not uncommon for a person having a panic attack to go to their local ER, worried that they are having a serious medical problem, only to be told that what they experienced was actually a panic attack. Though only a medical physician can determine whether or not someone’s medical condition could be worsened by a panic attack, most healthy individuals are not in physical danger if they have a panic attack. In fact, some common treatments for Panic Disorder include recognizing that symptoms are non-threatening and de-escalating worries related to panic attacks.
Symptoms of a panic attack can include:
- Racing or pounding heart
- Fear of dying or “going crazy”
- Chills or hot flashes
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest discomfort
- Feeling detached from oneself or one’s surroundings
- Numbness or tingling sensations in arms and legs