Go To: http://www.PanicAttacksCure.org What is Panic Disorder? Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder and is characterized by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms that may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress. Signs & Symptoms: People with panic disorder have feelings of terror that strike: suddenly and repeatedly with no warning. During a panic attack, most likely your heart will pound and you may feel sweaty, weak, faint, or dizzy. Your hands may tingle or feel numb, and you might feel flushed or chilled. You may have nausea, chest pain or smothering sensations, a sense of unreality, or fear of impending doom or loss of control. More about Signs & Symptoms: Treatment: Effective treatments for panic disorder are available, and research is yielding new, improved therapies that can help most people with panic disorder and other anxiety disorders lead productive, fulfilling lives. Panic Disorder is a serious condition that around one out of every 75 people might experience. It usually appears during the teens or early adulthood, and while the exact causes are unclear, there does seem to be a connection with major life transitions that are potentially stressful: graduating from college, getting married, having a first child, and so on. There is also some evidence for a genetic predisposition; if a family member has suffered from panic disorder, you have an increased risk of suffering from it yourself, especially during a time in your life that is particularly stressful. Please remember that only a licensed therapist can diagnose a panic disorder. There are certain signs you may already be aware of, though. One study found that people sometimes see 10 or more doctors before being properly diagnosed, and that only one out of four people with the disorder receive the treatment they need. That’s why it’s important to know what the symptoms are, and to make sure you get the right help. Many people experience occasional panic attacks, and if you have had one or two such attacks, there probably isn’t any reason to worry. The key symptom of panic disorder is the persistent fear of having future panic attacks. If you suffer from repeated (four or more) panic attacks, and especially if you have had a panic attack and are in continued fear of having another, these are signs that you should consider finding a mental health professional who specializes in panic or anxiety disorders. Body: There may be a genetic predisposition to anxiety disorders; some sufferers report that a family member has or had a panic disorder or some other emotional disorder such as depression. Studies with twins have confirmed the possibility of ‘genetic inheritance’ of the disorder. Panic Disorder could also be due to a biological malfunction, although a specific biological marker has yet to be identified. All ethnic groups are vulnerable to panic disorder. For unknown reasons, women are twice as likely to get the disorder as men. Mind: Stressful life events can trigger panic disorders. One association that has been noted is that of a recent loss or separation. Some researchers liken the ‘life stressor’ to a thermostat; that is, when stresses lower your resistance, the underlying physical predisposition kicks in and triggers an attack. Both: Physical and psychological causes of panic disorder work together. Although initially attacks may come out of the blue, eventually the sufferer may actually help bring them on by responding to physical symptoms of an attack. For example, if a person with panic disorder experiences a racing heartbeat caused by drinking coffee, exercising, or taking a certain medication, they might interpret this as a symptom of an attack and , because of their anxiety, actually bring on the attack. On the other hand, coffee, exercise, and certain medications sometimes do, in fact, cause panic attacks. One of the most frustrating things for the panic sufferer is never knowing how to isolate the different triggers of an attack. That’s why the right therapy for panic disorder focuses on all aspects — physical, psychological, and physiological — of the disorder.