Panic Disorders

by Morgan Morris

What is Panic Disorder?

Panic disorders are characterized by sudden, repeated attacks of fear that can last several minutes or longer. These repeated attacks are called panic attacks, and are characterized by fear of disaster or losing control even when there is no real danger. Having a panic attack may cause harsh physical reactions, and feels like one is experiencing a heart attack. Panic attacks can happen anytime, and may people with panic disorder fear about having another attack.


Causes of Panic Disorder

Panic disorder sometimes runs within certain families, but no one knows for sure what causes the disorder to appear in some and not in others. Researchers have discovered that fear and anxiety is affected by several parts of the brain, and research can create better treatment.


Signs and Symptoms

People who suffer from a panic disorder:


- Sudden and repeated attacks of fear

- A feeling of being out of control during an attack

- An intense worry about when the next panic attack will happen

- A fear or avoidance of places where a panic attack has occurred before

- Physical symptoms during an attack are sweating, heavy breathing, weakness, dizziness and chest pain

Who is At Risk?

Panic disorders affects 6 million American adults and twice as common in women as men. Panic attacks often begin in late adolescence or early adulthood. The tendency to develop panic attacks appears to be inherited.


Treatments

Panic disorders are usually treated by psychotherapy and medication.