Panic Disorder

Panic Disorder

What is Panic Disorder?

Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent and unexpected panic attacks. These attacks are sudden episodes of intense fear and discomfort that can occur without warning or apparent cause. Panic disorder can significantly impact a person's daily life, causing them to live in constant fear of experiencing another panic attack. 

Panic disorder affects approximately 2-3% of the adult population worldwide. It is more common in women than men and typically begins during late adolescence or early adulthood. However, panic disorder can also develop later in life. If left untreated, panic disorder can lead to other mental health issues, such as agoraphobia, depression, and substance abuse.

Panic Disorder Symptoms and Signs

The primary symptom of panic disorder is the occurrence of panic attacks. These attacks can last from a few minutes to over an hour and are accompanied by various physical and psychological symptoms, including:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Feelings of choking
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy
  • Fear of dying

In addition to panic attacks, individuals with panic disorder may also experience persistent worry about having another attack and may avoid situations or places they associate with previous attacks

Key Differences between Panic Attacks and Anxiety Attacks

Panic Disorder Causes and Contributing Factors

The exact cause of panic disorder is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic, biological, and environmental factors. Some potential contributing factors include:

  • Family history of anxiety disorders
  • History of childhood abuse or trauma
  • Chronic medical conditions or physical illnesses
  • Substance abuse
  • Major life stressors or changes

Treatment Options and Strategies

Panic disorder is treatable, and several evidence-based treatment options are available. These include:

  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) - a form of psychotherapy that helps individuals identify and change unhelpful thought patterns and behaviors related to their panic disorder. CBT can help individuals learn to manage their anxiety and reduce the frequency and intensity of panic attacks
  • Medication - Antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and benzodiazepines, can help manage the symptoms of panic disorder. However, medication should be used in conjunction with therapy for the best results
  • Relaxation techniques: Deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness meditation can help individuals with panic disorder manage their anxiety and reduce the likelihood of panic attacks. Relaxation exercises (and other therapy exercises) can be found at https://mindfulnesspractice.tumblr.com/

Tips for Managing Panic Disorder

In addition to seeking professional treatment, individuals with panic disorder can take steps to manage their symptoms and improve their overall well-being. Some tips include:

  • Educate yourself about panic disorder to better understand your symptoms and treatment options
  • Develop a support network of friends, family, and mental health professionals
  • Practice self-care by engaging in regular exercise (if adequately nourished), maintaining a regular balanced diet, and getting enough sleep by practicing sleep hygiene
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, nichotine, and illicit drugs, as these substances can exacerbate panic disorder symptoms.

Panic disorder is a debilitating mental health condition that can significantly impact an individual's quality of life. However, with appropriate treatment and self-management strategies, individuals with panic disorder can learn to manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives. If you or someone you know is struggling with panic disorder, it is essential to seek help from a mental health professional to develop a tailored treatment plan.

Need help?
We are a psychology centre focused on empathetic treatment of complex mental health issues and eating disorders for adults and adolescents (ages 14+).

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Frequently asked questions

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.

What's 9 + 10?

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere. 21

What's 9 + 10?

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere. 21

What's 9 + 10?

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere. 21

What's 9 + 10?

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere. 21

What's 9 + 10?

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere. 21

What's 9 + 10?

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere. 21

A tailored approach

We choose from a range of options to ensure that our approach is a good fit for you

View our services
Experienced team 

All clinicians are trained to deliver evidence based therapies

Meet the team
Warm and empathetic

We are neuroaffirming, trauma informed, and LGBTQAI+ & sex worker friendly

Book online

No problem too complex
No issue too small

Book online