People who have panic disorder suffer from repeated bouts of sudden terror that last for several minutes or more.These are called panic attacks and can consume the sufferer with dread or more physical symptoms like those of a heart attack or choking. Very often the sufferer will feel like he is going to die or lose control of his senses.
Panic attacks can occur at any time and very often rule the sufferers lives as they live in fear of another panic attack. If the sufferer begins to avoid certain places because of the fear of panic attacks then this may be diagnosed as agoraphobia.
Very little is known about the underlying cause of panic attacks and although they do seem to run in families it is not certain if this is due to genetics or because of the upbringing in an anxious household.
Anxiety and panic attacks can happen to anyone though and very often are brought on by a traumatic event, severe emotional stress, or complete physical or mental exhaustion.
What is clear though is that very often people who experience a panic attack will often live in real fear of having another one and very often it is this fear that is the cause of subsequent panic attacks.
When this happens and the fear of panic attacks take over a persons everyday life, it is considered to be a panic disorder
Symptoms and diagnosis
People who have panic disorder will have suffered from multiple unexpected panic attacks and generally experience an extended time of either
a) persistent overiding fear of another panic attack
b) Worry about the implications of the attack or its consequences, or
c)A serious change in normal behaviour or personality because of the attacks
Many people with panic disorder go from doctor to doctor trying to get proper treatment,and this is a shame as panic disorder is one of the easiest anxiety disorders to cure.
While medication can work, the best treatment is probably cognitive behavioural therapy which helps change the patterns of thinking that can lead to anxiety and fear.