Panic disorder is a psychological disorder that is characterised by extremely high levels of anxiety that can cause an individual to experience panic attacks. Panic attacks can arise in a variety of settings for a variety of reasons. For an individual experiencing them they can be terrifying – the individual may feel trapped and entirely hopeless and will experience a number of physical symptoms including shortness of breath, shakiness, or feelings that they are going to faint. If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. Estimates suggest that approximately 6 million people are affected by panic disorder in the United States alone.
Panic disorder develops due to and is maintained by a number of factors. These include maladaptive thinking styles and behaviors. By changing the way that you think or behave, it is possible to break the cycle of panic that exists in panic disorder. There are simple steps that you can take to do this yourself. Alternatively, medication and psychotherapeutic based treatments exist and have been shown to be effective in different ways.
This Coping with Panic Disorder Handbook provides further information regarding panic disorder and how it is treated. It also include some self-help information. This handbook does not replace the advice of a medical professional and so it is advised that you seek professional help if you are concerned for yourself or someone that you know.
Ms. Niamh Allen, M.A. B.Sc.