Many patients with panic disorder do not seek treatment because they feel embarrassed about their condition or fear others will not take them seriously. However, panic disorder is a very real mental health condition that can severely limit a patient's quality of life. Fortunately, if you or a loved one suffers from this disorder, Dr. Daniel Bober in Hollywood, FL, can help you find the right panic disorder treatment to manage your symptoms. As a board-certified psychiatrist and mental health advocate, he is passionate about helping his patients live a healthier, fuller life.
What Is Panic Disorder?
Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), defines panic disorder as "recurrent and unexpected panic attacks." One or more of these attacks must be followed by:
- Persistent concern about additional attacks or their consequences
- A significant maladaptive change in behavior related to the attacks
These symptoms must last for a month or longer.
Defining a Panic Attack
According to the DSM-5, a panic attack is "an abrupt surge of intense fear or intense discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes." For the episode to qualify as a panic attack, patients must experience four out of five of these symptoms:
- Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Nausea or abdominal distress
- Trembling or shaking
- Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
- Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
- Feeling of choking
- Paresthesias (numbness or tingling sensation)
- Chills or heat sensations
- Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself)
- Fear of losing control or “going crazy”
- Fear of dying
It is important to note that not every patient who suffers from panic attacks has panic disorder. Panic attacks may indicate other anxiety disorders but they may also occur in anxiety-inducing situations for people who do not suffer from a disorder. When someone is having a panic attack, it is important to remain calm. It may help to reassure them they are not dying and remind them to breathe deeply.
Who Is at Risk of Panic Disorder?
Panic disorder affects six million adults in the U.S. Typically, the disorder develops in the late teen years or early adulthood. In the U.S., the average age of onset is between 20 to 24 years old. However, children can also have the condition. Additionally, women are twice as likely to suffer from panic disorder. There are several factors that are believed to play a role in panic disorder, including:
- Several parts of the brain
- Biological processes
- Environmental factors
However, research is ongoing to determine the exact causes of panic disorder. Patients with panic disorder often suffer from other mental health or addiction disorders, as well as health conditions such as asthma and irritable bowel syndrome.
Recognizing Panic Disorder
For some, panic disorder can be difficult to recognize or accept. In addition to suffering from panic attacks, you may find yourself frequently preoccupied with worries about when your next attack will happen. You may also experience a notable fear about returning to places where you have suffered an attack and may take action to avoid these places whenever possible.
If you notice these signs in a friend or loved one, it is important that you help them find treatment as soon as possible.
What Are the Treatment Options?
As with many mental health conditions, therapy, medication, or a combination of the two can be effective for panic disorder. Often, Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is recommended as a way to manage sufferers' fears. CBT can help patients change the way they think about their fears as well as help learn strategies on how to cope with them.
It is important to note that not every patient who suffers from panic attacks has panic disorder.
There are also several medications that are commonly used to address the symptoms associated with panic disorder. These can include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), among others. The right recommendation will vary for each patient because they may experience different side effects with these medications. As your psychiatrist, Dr. Bober will first conduct a thorough evaluation at our Hollywood practice. This will allow him to pinpoint the medication that provides relief from your symptoms with the fewest possible side effects.
It is important to note that treatment cannot change your life overnight, but by remaining diligent with therapy as well as medication, you can overcome the condition.
Other Factors That Improve Treatment Success
Lifestyle factors play an important role in your mental health. Maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, and getting sufficient sleep should all be priorities. Patients struggling to overcome panic disorder can also benefit from a support group, which can provide valuable tools and inspire members to continue seeking treatment.
Overcome Your Fears
You do not have to continue living in fear. Call Dr. Bober at (954) 994-1115 to schedule a consultation at our Hollywood office. He has been treating mental health disorders for over 10 years and can help you find the relief you need.
- Definition of panic disorder and panic attack - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- Helping someone during a panic attack - TeenMentalHealth.org
- Six million adults in the U.S. suffer from panic disorder - Anxiety and Depression Association of America
- Average age of onset - MentalHealth.org
- Causes of panic disorder - National Institute of Mental Health
- Co-occurring issues - Anxiety and Depression Association of America