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Approximately six million Americans suffer from panic disorders. Women are twice as likely to develop a panic disorder than men. Panic disorders are one of the most common mental illnesses in the U.S. according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Panic disorders develop from a complex set of factors such as: genetics, brain chemistry, personality and traumatic life events.
What is a Panic Disorder?
Panic disorders are also called anxiety attacks. These are spontaneous out-of-the-blue attacks that occur unexpectedly and some times during sleep. A panic attack is the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort that reaches its peak within minutes. People often feel as if they are choking while their heart is pounding at an accelerated rate. It is common to sweat, tremble, feel nausea, dizzy, feel hot and cold, and sensations of shortness of breath. There have been reports of having a feeling of unreality or feeling detached from oneself. Those suffering from panic attacks may feel fear of losing control or fear of dying. Many of these symptoms mimic those of heart disease and people often make trips to the emergency room.
Those suffering from Panic Attacks do not understand they are suffering from a real treatable disorder.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the treatment of choice for panic disorders. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps identify and change the distorted thinking patterns that maintain anxiety. After eight treatments 85 percent of people are panic free. Those suffering from panic attacks and agoraphobic avoidance need to work on changing patterns of thinking and exposing themselves to situations they fear.
Physicians or Psychiatrists may prescribe medication to treat panic disorders. These are anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants. Even though antidepressants are used to treat depression they also help panic disorders. Anti-anxiety medications can be a little too strong. It is best to talk with a doctor for the best option. Some doctors prescribe beta blockers to help control the physical symptoms while being treated with CBT. Taking medication for panic disorders during pregnancy may increase the risk of birth defects. Talk to your doctor before taking any medication while breast-feeding.
Which treatment is better?
Some people well on just medications. Others do better on a combination of CBT and medications and others do well just on CBT.
Talking with your doctor is a key part of treatment and safety. It is also a good idea to know all test results and keep a list of medicines a person is taking. If you or someone you care about is struggling with a panic disorder, don't delay. Call now! Representatives are available 24/7 to help find treatment centers and support worldwide.
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