Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder which is characterised by abrupt onset of intense fear, terror, or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes, in addition to feelings of apprehensiveness with regards to the episode of future panic attacks. In fact, about 2 to 3 per cent of people in the United States experience panic disorder in a given year and it is twice as common in women than in men.
A person battling with panic attacks normally experiences palpitations, or accelerated heart rate, sweating and sensations of shortness of breath or smothering, among others. Its main cause has not been known but studies have shown that some factors may contribute which include:
- Major stress;
- Certain changes in the way some parts of your brain function; and
- The temperament that is prone to negative emotions or more sensitive to stress
Panic attacks may occur suddenly and without any warning, but over time, they are normally triggered by certain situations or circumstances. The pain and discomfort endured by the people with this disorder are unfathomable and if this is left untreated, the disorder will significantly affect the quality of life of the person and the people living with him.
Panic disorder and its associative symptoms can interfere with the day-to-day life of the patient because it causes frustrations and prevents him/her to perform his/her normal duties. In this piece, we have listed some ways or things you can do to help you manage the panic disorder.
1. Gain Knowledge of Panic Disorder
The best way to recover and alleviate the pain and discomfort brought by panic disorder, it is imperative to know what is panic disorder in the first place. This way, you can better situate yourself in terms of the treatment options to take as well as the remedies you can do to make yourself better when the attack occurs.
Once you suspect that you suffer from panic disorder, it is better to not just hope for its disappearance, read about the treatment options available and which you think is best for you. Doing so will allow you some comfort in knowing that you had a chance to get your normal life back and hope that you will eventually feel all right, you just have to go through some process that will take some time. The more informed you are, the sooner for you to get the help you need to recover.
2. Seek Professional Help
Acceptance is the key if you want to make yourself better. By accepting your condition, with the courage to take the necessary steps to heal yourself, you are allowing yourself to not only conquer your disorder but you are also setting a good example for those around you who are struggling with the same condition or other mental health conditions.
After learning about the basic knowledge about panic disorder, such as its symptoms and risk factors, it is important for you to immediately seek medical assistance. If you suspect that you are indeed suffering from panic disorder, do not hesitate to get in touch with your most trusted medical expert. Several mental health specialists offer professional mental health services that can help you recover faster.
Reaching out for help is not always easy for everyone. For some people, it can take so much time as they are not used to being straightforward when it comes to their needs. But it is important to not be afraid to ask for help because whether you’re aware or not, you are not alone and you deserve all the support you can get.
If you are having a hard time locating or accessing medical help, do not hesitate to reach out to your family and friends so they can recommend the best medical help for you. Allow them to be part of your journey in combating your internal struggles. Most importantly, do not beat yourself up and just trust the process as you are already on the right track.
3. Change the Way You Think
The thought process of a person with the panic disorder is either one of the two main categories which include (1) overestimating or (2) catastrophising. If you or someone you know is battling with panic disorder, it is vital to properly learn or identify the sabotaging thoughts in order to break the cycle that triggers the physical feelings of panic. Determining these thoughts will help you to challenge these thoughts so you could avert any unnecessary attacks.
In order to be successful in getting rid of these sabotaging thoughts, it is imperative to know first your worrying/ triggering thoughts. After successfully identifying these, try to write them down and so whenever you have the urge to escape or prevent a certain situation or event, you can easily calm yourself and avoid the physical symptoms associated with panic disorder. Try to do this technique for a week or so until you’re confident that you’re being able to control the attacks when they occur.
The final step involved is by examining and challenging the accuracy of these frightening thoughts. A person battling with panic disorder is inclined to overestimate (one strongly believes or think that a highly unlikely situation or event is about to occur) or catastrophise ( one visualise or imagine the worst possible outcome and he/she won’t be able to surpass it) a certain situation.
Challenging these overestimating thoughts requires the person with panic disorder to acknowledge that these thoughts are simply speculations about the future that are not supported or backed by facts. Be objective in assessing the situation as this will serve as the basis for and against your scary thoughts. As for your catastrophic thoughts, it is best to imagine the worst possible outcome and imagine how you could prepare yourself in handling this type of repercussion, should it ever happen.