Panic Disorder

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Having a panic attack is the body's normal reaction usually happening at inappropriate times. It is a chain of events that occur inside the body in which adrenalin fires up the body. "Breathing becomes rapid, increasing the amount of oxygen in the blood, which enables the muscles and brain to burn glucose more efficiently. The heart begins pumping faster, sending blood to priority portions of the body. As the skeletal muscles tense, blood is diverted from the stomach which can cause nausea. The brain is preparing for violent physical action, "fight or flight" - one reason thinking is muddled. The sweat glands perspire. The blood decreases in the arms and legs, gathering in the head and trunk." (Kernodle, pg 12).

The symptoms include:
"1. shortness of breath,
2. dizziness,
3. accelerated heart rate,
4. trembling or shaking,
5. sweating,
6. choking,
7. nausea or abdominal distress,
8. feeling unreal,
9. numbness or tingling sensations,
10. hot or cold flashes,
11. chest pain,
12. fear of dying, and
13. fear of going crazy or losing control." (Kernodle, pg 10). Before being treated for a panic disorder, you need to rule out all other possible conditions that are commonly mistaken for as a panic attack.

"Anxiety becomes a problem, and a disorder should be considered when:
· It is of greater intensity and duration than expected,
· It leads to impairment or disability in occupational, social, or interpersonal functioning,
· Daily activities are disrupted by the avoidance of certain situations in an attempt to diminish the anxiety,
· It includes clinically significant, unexplained physical symptoms and (or) obsessions, compulsions, and intrusive recollections or memories of trauma." (Can J Psychiatry, pg 10).
When two or more conditions appear together, this is called a co-morbid disorder. "Up to 75% of those who are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder have at least one other co-morbid psychiatric...
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