Panic disorder, also known as “panic attacks” is a type of anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are the most common of mental disorders and affect nearly 30 percent of adults at some point in their lives. A panic attack is an episode of overwhelming fear and intense anxiety. When these episodes become recurrent, they can develop into a panic disorder. 

Panic attacks often occur without warning and can involve very real physical symptoms such as:

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Chest pain

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Shortness of breath

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Rapid heartbeat

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Stomach ache

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These physical symptoms are also accompanied by fear, dread, anxiety, or impending doom.

We’re not sure exactly why some patients develop panic disorders, but we know that there is an increased risk if you have a family history of anxiety disorders, a personal history of anxiety or depression, or traumatic experiences in childhood. 

There is no specific test, but a provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history. Sometimes other tests will be run to rule out other conditions to ensure there is not an underlying physical cause such as cardiac or thyroid disease. 

Panic disorder is typically lifelong. Patients will often improve with treatment, but recurrence is common. It’s important to take your medication and follow up with your counselor as needed. 

DISCLAIMER: Important: We do NOT prescribe Xanax or any controlled substance.

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Sertraline (Zoloft)

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Paroxetine (Paxil)

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Fluoxetine (Prozac) 

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Citalopram (Celexa)

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Venlafaxine (Effexor)

Preventing panic disorder may not be entirely possible, as it can result from a combination of genetic, biological, and environmental factors. However, managing and reducing its symptoms can involve a multifaceted approach. Lifestyle habits such as regular exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, and getting sufficient sleep contribute to overall well-being and may help mitigate anxiety symptoms. Learning and practicing stress management techniques, mindfulness, and relaxation exercises can be beneficial. Engaging in therapy, particularly cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and considering medication under the guidance of a healthcare professional are effective treatment methods. Developing a support network and educating oneself about panic disorder can also empower individuals to better cope with and manage symptoms. Early intervention and a personalized treatment plan are essential for effective symptom management.

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Panic attacks themselves are not physically dangerous, but they can be extremely distressing and debilitating. They often involve intense physical and psychological symptoms, which can mimic heart attacks or other medical emergencies, leading to fear and further exacerbating the panic attack. 

Panic attacks are relatively common and can occur in response to stress, anxiety, or certain triggers. However, if they occur frequently, disrupt daily life, or lead to avoidance behavior, it's essential to seek help from a mental health professional, as they may indicate an underlying anxiety disorder that can be effectively treated.

There is evidence to suggest that panic attacks and panic disorder can have a hereditary component, as they can run in families. However, genetics alone do not determine whether someone will experience panic attacks, as environmental factors and life experiences also play significant roles in the development of these episodes.

Panic disorder can be considered a disability if it significantly impairs a person's ability to perform daily activities and maintain gainful employment. In such cases, individuals with panic disorder may qualify for disability accommodations or support.

Panic disorder is a treatable condition, and many people experience significant improvements in their symptoms with therapy and, in some cases, medication. While it is possible to achieve long-term remission and effectively manage panic disorder, it may not always be completely curable, and ongoing self-care and support may be necessary.

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