Panic Disorder – Symptoms and Treatment

by | Mental Health

May 31, 2020

Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that is caused by an excessive fear of recurring panic attacks. Knowing what panic attack is will help you to understand panic disorder.

Panic attack has been defined as a sudden crisis characterized by intense fear or discomfort that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real cause or apparent danger. 

It can be very scary and occurs without warning. Furthermore, you might experience symptoms like fear of losing control of yourself, having trouble breathing, racing heart, sweating and upset stomach upset. These symptoms can occur at a short period of time mostly under 10 minutes. It’s called Panic Disorder when it occurs at a regular basis. In this article, I have written some common symptoms and treatments for panic disorder.


9 Symptoms of Panic Disorder


  1. Increased heart rate or Palpitations
  2. Feeling of impending danger
  3. Experience fear of losing your mind
  4. You might experience tighten feeling in your chest or have chest pain
  5. May experience shortness of breath or find it hard to breath
  6. You may feel light-headed or pass out.
  7. Your surroundings might become unreal
  8. Headaches might occur
  9. A feeling you are about to die.


Panic disorder, if left untreated can affect the quality of your life. Consequently, you may begin to avoid situations or places where you suspect a panic attack might occur. In some cases, you may start having problems at work or school and even social events. Subsequently, it may result in other mental health problems.

Furthermore, panic disorders are usually diagnosed at adulthood from the age of 20 upwards. However, children can also have panic disorder and experience panic-like symptoms.


Causes of panic disorder


What causes panic disorder is still not fully known. However, different theories have been used to explain why it occurs. A combination of biological and environmental factors have been propagated that stressors and medical conditions could lead to the occurrence of panic disorder. Furthermore, the attacks can be induced by memories of traumatic experiences, such as war, accidents, rape, or child abuse.


Biological Factors


Family History

It has been noted that many family generations have been diagnosed with panic disorder. It has also been shown that parents are able to transfer characteristics to their children.

Furthermore, it might be passed on to some people by one or both parents just the way other physical traits are.


Malfunction of Organ

Panic disorder patients may have problems in parts of the brain and nervous system. In some cases, the part of the brain that is triggered when you are scared is hypersensitive. Also, it may be that your central nervous system fear mechanism is over active.


Environmental Factors


Substance abuse

Alcohol addiction, excessive caffeine intake and drug abuse can lead to panic disorder.


Major life changes

A major transition in your life or an occurrence of a stressful event can cause panic disorder. Examples of stressful events include; losing a loved one in death, graduating from school or securing a dream job or business deal can trigger a panic disorder.


Childhood experiences

Several studies have shown that people who had adverse childhood experiences run a high risk of panic disorder. These experiences might include:

  • Loss of parents at an early age
  • Sexual abuse
  • Verbal or physical abuse
  • Growing up in a household with low-income


5 Kinds Of Treatments for Panic disorder


1. Therapy

Getting the help of a qualified professional to help improve your situation is an important step to treat panic disorder. If you are experiencing panic attack, see your doctor immediately. Don’t wait for too long. 


2. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

This is usually the first step of treatment for panic disorder. Under a safe condition, a clinician will help you experience and face the situation that causes your panic attack. 

Furthermore, you will learn how to identify your possible triggers and be able to break the recurring cycle of anticipatory anxiety and panics. Also, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has shown to be more effective with about 77% recovery rate.


3. Guided imagery

Through guided imagery you can learn to visualize things or a place which makes you feel calm. In addition, this treatment method for panic disorder makes use of your positive imagination.


4. Refocusing your thoughts

Another method of therapy for treating panic disorder is by refocusing your thoughts to intentionally break negative or anxious thoughts and feelings. A willful action to control the ideas and thoughts that are discomforting to a more relaxing and endearing one.


5. Medication

Fix an appointment with your doctor. He may give you a prescription to fit your needs. Some anti-anxiety medications and anti-depressants have proved effective for treatment of panic disorders. 

Moreover, in situations where it concerns the heart, medications that control irregular heart beats can be used. However you don’t want to self medicate as each individual stressors are different.


Changes in your lifestyle

Adjusting your way of life will help you to have more control over your stressors. Especially, in cases of abuse and other health factors. Below are practical techniques to help you control panic disorder.


5 Practical Techniques To Help Control Panic Disorder


1. Learn and Practice relaxation techniques

Activities like yoga, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation when practised regularly can help your body’s relaxation response. Further, these relaxation practices promote relaxation and can also increase feelings of joy and calmness.


2. Breath training

You should learn how to breathe slower, deeper, and more regularly. Moreover, slow breathing techniques can help reduce your panic symptoms and the hyperventilation which comes with panic attacks


3. Diet

You should abstain from foods and drinks that can heighten your anxiety. Furthermore, excessive intake of caffeine has been noted to contribute to the development of panic disorder. Avoid all substances that contain excess caffeine.


4. Regular exercise

Regular exercise is highly recommended if you experience increased heart rate or difficulty breathing during panic attack. During exercise, you will become short of breath at one time or another. After that, it will become a familiar situation. Subsequently, this will eventually reduce your fear of it. Most importantly, exercise helps to reduce stress and anxiety.


5. Mindfulness meditation

This mental training practice teaches you how to slow down accelerating thoughts. In addition, it will help you to release negative energy and brings calmness to your mind and body. Also, it enables you to fully engage your mind with your surroundings.



In conclusion, it is likely that panic disorder won’t be cured for some but be rest assured that you can effectively manage it and have control of your life back. Moreover, the majority of those with panic disorder can be helped with the right treatment. Also, friends and family can be of great support as well.

Above all, combining the above treatment methods for panic disorder to get the best result for you.


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