Imagine suddenly feeling like you might be having a heart attack. Your heart is pounding, you feel weak and faint. You may feel dizzy and find yourself sweating profusely. Chest pains are accompanied by nausea and perhaps a tingling or numbness in your hands.
People with panic disorder don’t have to use their imagination; they have lived through this before. And, they live in fear of having to go through it again. Regardless of when or how the first panic attack occurred, the dread of not knowing when the next one will happen becomes the fuel that keeps the panic disorder occurring again and again.
Roughly 6 million American adults have a panic disorder. People typically experience their first panic attack during their late teens or early twenties. Not every one who experiences a panic attack will develop panic disorder.
Most panic attacks last a relatively short amount of time; usually peaking after about 10 minutes. People who develop Panic Disorder may begin to avoid situations or places where panic attacks have occurred in the past. Occasionally, some people will go so far as to avoid all places outside of their homes (Agoraphobia). People with agoraphobia can find themselves leading extremely restricted lives.
Panic Disorder is one of the most readily treated forms of anxiety disorders; most people respond well to cognitive-behavioral therapy interventions. If you or a family member suffer from Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, or a related anxiety disorder, please call someone today: there is no need to continue struggling with a treatable disorder.