Panic Disorder

People who suffer from panic disorder have recurring attacks of panic, accompanied by physical symptoms such as a pounding heart, dizziness, difficulty breathing, perspiration, numbness or tingling, trembling, and nausea.

Extreme anxiety accompanies the panic attacks. Many sufferers feel terrified of dying or going crazy. A sensation of choking or being smothered is common. Some think they are having a heart attack.

Other symptoms may include dizziness, chest pain, numbness, hyperventilation, nausea, feelings of unreality, and chills or hot flashes. In addition, the person usually has thoughts of impending doom.

Typically, the panic attacks have no obvious trigger and can occur when you are in a relaxed and happy state.. Most episodes last about ten minutes, but they can last from a couple of minutes to a few hours.

Panic disorder has been found to run in families and can co-exist with other hereditary illnesses such as major depressive disorder and bi-polar disorder. Studies show that the first episode is often triggered by physical illness such as a serious infection, hypoglycemia or thyroid disorder.

People with panic disorder are more sensitive to stimulants like caffeine and nicotine (and cocaine and other recreational drugs). Regular or long-term use of alcohol or recreational drugs will worsen the symptoms.

Treatment for Panic Disorder

The main treatment options for panic attacks are medications and psychotherapy. Both are effective, depending on the seriousness and frequency of the attacks.

Your doctor likely will recommend one or both types of treatment, depending on your preference, your history, the severity of your panic disorder and whether there are therapists with special training in panic disorders in your area.1

Medications, usually anti-depressants, effectively treat most cases of panic disorder.

Another type of medication called beta-blockers can help control some of the physical symptoms of panic disorder such as excessive sweating, a pounding heart, or dizziness. Although beta blockers are not commonly prescribed, they may be helpful in certain situations that bring on a panic attack.cognitive behavior therapy is especially useful for treating panic disorder. It teaches a person different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to situations that help him or her feel less anxious and fearful

After being stabilized with medication, therapy is often recommended. For example, you may learn techniques to control and slow your breathing, and other techniques to calm the body when you start to experience symptoms.

If you are experiencing the symptoms of panic disorder, see your doctor. If you are having suicidal thoughts, call an ambulance or go to the nearest emergency ward.

Back to anxiety disorders introduction
Clinical Depression
Non-clinical depression
Home Page

1. Mayo Clinic


 Mental Health News

CMHA Nation-wide Conference
The Canadian Mental Health Association national conference takes place October 22 - 24th 2014 at the Westin Calgary.
Theme: Strengthening Our Collective Voice
Register here

Neuroplasticity reduced in brains of people with depression
The brains of people with depression show a reduced ability to adapt to their environment, learning and memory. a unique study shows. This is one of the first objective tests to show that depression is linked to decreased neuroplasticity. The magnetic stimulation tests also showed the lesssened neuroplasticity was not related to how much effort the person made. Read more

Doctors urge mental health screenings with physical exams
Most people don't address mental health issues until they drastically interfere with their lives, says a new study. This could be avoided with regular screenings.
Read more - USA Today

Calgary Flames Hockey Coach talks about his battle with OCD and depression
Facing a losing battle with depression, OCD and heavy drinking, Clint Malarchuk put a bullet to his bed. Miraculously, he survivived. Today he tells his story to corporations and high schools. "What makes me any different than a diabetic or someone with high cholesterol or a heart condition. You need medication, you take it."
Read more - Calgary Sun

Canada launches wokplace standards for mental health and safety
The Mental Health Commission of Canada released a standardized tool to help Canadian companies promote mental health, reduce stigma and support employees dealing with mental illness.
Read more

Magnetic helmet "rewires" the brain
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a helmet using magnets to treat depression in patients who have failed to respond to antidepressant medications.
Read more

Toronto's CAMH launches Temerty Centre for Therapeutic Brain Intervention
A $7.2 million donation from the Temerty Family Foundation will fund research into promising new treatments for persistent and severe mental illness, including Canada's first clinic using Magnetic Seizure Therapy (MST). Read more

Calgary researchers could help depression sufferers get well sooner
A new pilot project at Foothills Medical Centre and the University of Calgary could one day help people with major depression get well sooner. The study will use blood and urine tests and brain scans to determine if there is a biological marker that will help selecting the most effective medication. Read more


Do you have news items that may be of interest to our visitors? Email us