It's estimated that more than six million Americans, or 2.7% of the adult U.S. population, have a panic disorder. They can be highly debilitating to everyday life if left untreated. If you suspect you may have a panic disorder, it's crucial to get diagnosed and seek treatment. Many people with a panic disorder question if their condition is real and don't understand that treatment is generally highly effective. If you think you may have a panic disorder, keep reading for a complete breakdown of the condition, the different variations, and what treatment looks like.
What is it?
Panic disorder is when an individual experiences recurring, unexpected panic attacks that can involve stressful physical, behavioral, and cognitive symptoms. As these attacks are usually unprompted, individuals also spend a lot of their time fearing when the next attack will occur. This can cause them to avoid social situations and going outside, for fear of another attack.
Many people have trouble distinguishing the difference between a panic attack and a panic disorder. A panic attack is a stand-alone event.
A panic disorder is defined as:
Having multiple panic attacks within a four-week period
Changing your behavior out of fear for your next panic attack (canceling plans, not going outside, etc.)
There are two main types of panic disorders: either with or without agoraphobia.
Agoraphobia is an intense fear of going to unfamiliar places or events. Often patients with agoraphobia contain themselves to their homes and can't bring themselves to venture out. When they try to leave their homes or attend an unfamiliar place, it triggers a panic attack. Agoraphobia severely impacts the quality of life for the individual and can negatively affect personal relationships, work, and physical health.
Approximately one-third to one-half of panic disorder patients will develop agoraphobia. If an individual seeks help early, they can reduce their chances of developing agoraphobia.
How a Psychiatrist Can Help
Treatment for panic disorder can be very effective. Patients should seek help from a professional psychiatrist who will administer a combination of talk therapy and medication. Most commonly, panic disorder treatment plans use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which looks to teach the patient about their condition and steps to change their unproductive thinking patterns. The psychiatrist will walk the individual through the underlying cause of the condition, their triggers, and preventative measures they can take.
Stress management practices may be encouraged, and some patients may benefit from family therapy.
Depending on the patient, the treatment length can vary from a couple of months to several years.
If you're looking for a Buffalo psychiatrist, Williamsville Psychiatry is one of the top clinics in the area. At Williamsville Psych, we help our patients get the help they need from caring, licensed professionals. We also offer telemedicine services so you can receive treatment from the comfort of your own home. If you suspect you have a panic disorder, take the first step by booking a consultation.