Panic disorder is a form of anxiety disorder that affects 2-3% of people worldwide with nearly all cases affecting teens or adults. Panic disorder is characterized by severe feelings of terror known as panic attacks that can occur at any time. These panic attacks last between 10 minutes to an hour and an individual suffering from Panic Disorder will have extreme levels of anxiety in between episodes, as they are constantly worrying about when the next panic attack will occur. Panic disorder may also lead to the arrival of other disorders such as Phobias (heightened fears) since an individual suffering from Panic disorder will want to avoid those areas in which they have had a panic attack in the past.
Panic disorder is caused by a combination of Temperamental, Environmental and Genetic factors. Most commonly, an individual will develop panic disorder as a result of constant worry and negative affectivity. Additionally, some form of childhood emotional trauma such as physical or sexual abuse may also result in panic attacks or panic disorder.
Difficulties arising from Panic Disorder:
- Panic attacks or fear of panic attacks at school, or anxiety of finishing homework or schoolwork, resulting in the student missing school or dropping out
- Occupational panic attacks or fear of occurrence of panic attacks, thereby resulting in loss of income or job
- Panic attacks or fear of panic attacks in social situations or places, resulting in fear of inability to be in social places or form friendships/relationships
Symptoms of Panic Disorder include:
- *Physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, sweating heavily, nausea, fatigue, and dizziness, shortness of breath, numbness in extremities)
- Heightened fears and anxieties of next panic attack
- Fear of losing control
- Fear of dying
- Sense of terror or impending doom
Treatments for Panic Disorder
There are numerous effective treatments for Panic Disorder. The best-studied methods are psychotherapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Clinical Hypnosis CBT uses in addition to identifying triggers of panic attacks exposure therapy and desensitization to these triggers. Hypnosis deals with the subconscious causes of panic attacks. Neurofeedback increases the threshold for panic attacks by decreasing the background anxiety that fuels these attacks and Biofeedback reduces physiological hyperarousal, a hallmark of panic attacks.