About Treating Anxiety Disorders
About Treating Panic Disorder
people feel anxious at times, but a panic attack involves a
very intense level of physical arousal. A panic attack is usually
activated initially by a stressful situation, such as leaving
home, a relationship conflict, taking an important exam, surgery,
new roles or responsibilities, or a physical illness or condition.
an anxiety attack people experience physical symptoms, such
as pounding heart, numbness or tingling sensations, shortness
of breath, a sense of impending doom, trembling, chest pain,
sweating, and choking sensations. The sensations of physical
arousal may be misinterpreted as catastrophic danger--that
is, people might feel as if they are going to die, lose control,
have a heart attack or stroke, or "go crazy." Consequently,
the person may become hyperalert and begin to focus excessively
on physical sensations, which can further increase arousal.
This arousal triggers more catastrophic misinterpretations
that signal impending danger when there is really none.
full-blown panic attack can result from such arousal and misinterpretations.
When a person has frequent, unexpected panic attacks, is afraid
of having more panic attacks or is worried about their meaning,
and makes changes in his/her behavior, the person is said
to have panic disorder.
people with panic disorder begin avoiding situations that
might cause a panic attack, especially if escape from these
situations is difficult or embarrassing. When avoidance and
escape become the primary ways of coping to handle anxiety,
the person has developed agoraphobia.
disorder has some genetic links, but it is not entirely hereditary.
There are many other factors that cause and maintain the problem.
In any given year, approximately 40% of the general population
will have a panic attack, but most of these people will not
interpret their symptoms as catastrophic danger and thus will
not go on to develop panic disorder or agoraphobia.