Panic Disorder

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Panic disorder is a real illness that can be successfully treated. It is characterize by sudden attacks of terror, usually accompanied by a pounding heart, sweatiness, weakness, faintness, or dizziness. Panic attacks usually produce a sense of unreality, a fear of impending doom, or a fear of loosing control. Have had a panic attack before. For me, a panic attack was almost a violent experience. I felt disconnected from reality. I felt like I had lost control. My heart pounded very hard and I felt like I could not breath. I had an overwhelming feeling that things were crashing down on me.

Panic disorder affects about 6 million American adults and is more common in women than in men. People with full-blown, repeated panic attacks can become very disabled by their condition. Some people lives become so constricted that they avoid normal activities, such as grocery shopping or even driving. Some people start to avoid places or situations where panic attacks have occurred. For example, if a panic attack happened in an elevator, someone with panic disorder may develop fear of elevators. This fear could affect the choice of a job or an apartment, and restrict where that person can seek medical attention or enjoy entertainment.

Panic disorder is one of the most treatable of all the anxiety disorders, responding in most cases to certain kind of medication or certain kinds of cognitive psychotherapy. This type of cognitive psychotherapy can help change peoples thinking patterns that lead them to fear and anxiety. This type of therapy is called cognitive-behavioral therapy and it has been shown in numerous studies to be the treatment of choice for anxiety disorders. It is primarily effective in helping people overcome panic attacks.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy includes two components: identifying and changing the distorted thinking patterns that maintain anxiety (cognitive therapy) and desensitizing anxiety through exposure to feared situations (behavioral...
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