Spring 2016 Edition
Recognizing Panic Disorder
Imagine you’re safe at home, sitting comfortably in front of the TV when out of nowhere, you feel your heart rate accelerate, your breathing becomes erratic, and you experience true terror for no reason whatsoever. This is the experience of the panic sufferer.
People suffering from panic disorder may not be anxious all of the time. However, they do experience unanticipated “attacks” that recur after periods of normal functioning. These “attacks” are sudden, overwhelming periods of intense fear (panic attacks) that seemingly come out of nowhere. Quite often, a person suffering from a panic attack will believe he or she is suffering from a heart attack and dying.
Typically beginning in the teens or early adulthood, common symptoms of panic attacks include shortness of breath, dizziness, heart palpitations, nausea, numbness or tingling, chest pain, a sense of “strangeness” or being detached from one’s surrounding and fear of going “insane” or dying. The person suffering from panic disorder often develops anticipatory anxiety, tension and worry that the panic will happen again.
Getting help for panic disorder
The key symptom of panic disorder is the persistent fear of having future attacks. If you or a family member suffers from repeated panic attacks, and especially if you have had a panic attack and are in continued fear of having another, these are signs that you should consider getting help from a mental health professional who specializes in panic and anxiety disorders. Most specialists agree that a combination of cognitive and behavioral therapies are the best treatment for panic disorder. Medication may also be appropriate in some cases.
If you or a family member needs help, call your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for confidential counseling, referrals or information. EAP counselors are specially trained to help people get the right kind of help for panic disorder.