Panic Disorders

Have you ever had an experience where you started to feel dizzy and shaky, your heart was pounding, you perhaps felt tingling in your fingers or lips, and had an overwhelming sense of fear or doom for a period of time? If so, then you may have suffered a panic attack. You may have been concerned that something was seriously wrong, possibly gone to the doctor to check for heart problems only to be told that you are perfectly fine. Whilst this is reassuring, you may nonetheless be fearful of having another ‘attack’.

Understand this condition

Panic disorder is a common anxiety disorder. Often symptoms start without a clear cause and because they are mainly physical in nature, both the sufferer and the doctor may mistake it for a physical condition. The key feature is the “panic attack” which usually occurs out of the blue. This is a period of fear or discomfort with many physical symptoms. In addition to those mentioned above, others include sweating, shortness of breath, feeling of choking, chest pain, nausea, feeling detached from oneself, fear of dying. A secondary fear can then develop, which becomes a fear of the fear and of places where previous attacks have occurred. For example, a person who has woken from sleep with a panic attack may be too afraid to go to sleep lest it happen again.

Counseling can provide an understanding of the mechanism of panic and anxiety so that a person can manage the rising anxious feelings using cognitive (thinking) techniques. At times, if a person feels that his/her body has completely lost control, then a referral will be made to a doctor for assessment and possible medication.

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