When Your Panic Attacks: Panic Disorder

When Your Panic Attacks: Panic Disorder

If you are experiencing panic attacks you may have a panic disorder. Panic attacks are unexpected changes in the mind and body, branded by an overwhelming sense of looming doom, heart palpitations, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, dizziness, intense dread, nausea, and fear of dying (APA, 2013). Such attacks are related with perceptions of threat can occur for several reasons: fear of danger, inability to escape, fear of embarrassment, or a fear of a specific collection of objects. Usually panic attacks last for about 10 minutes, but then can come and go for around an hour or more. Some people due to this psychological disorder, may accept as true they are having a heart attack or believe they are “going crazy.”

Panic disorder is defined by regular panic attacks and persistent and tenacious fear, worry, embarrassment, and concern about having more attacks (APA, 2013). The concern with having another attack creates anxious mood, which then rises the likelihood of my worrisome thoughts, and incongruously, another attack. Panic disorder creates a positive feedback cycle, in which anxiety about the future attacks hijacks the body’s emergency response system and copulates it out of control. To be diagnosed with panic disorder, a panic attack must follow at least a month of future attacks, along with the development of possibly maladaptive behaviors to avoid attacks (example, putting oneself in unfamiliar situations).

Those who only have irregular panic attacks without penetrating anxiety or fear about the possibility of future panic attacks do not qualify for panic disorder. An estimated seven percent of Canadians have experienced a panic attack in the last year, whereas between one and four percent have panic disorder (Kingsley, et, al., 2009). Overall, in Asia, African, and Latin American countries, the rates are very low—less than one percent—and the specific concerns or persistent worries appear to very by culture (APA, 2013).


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