Panic Disorder is a mental health condition in which the person experiences recurring panic attacks, with significant worry about having additional attacks or how future attacks may cause them harm. A panic attack is a surge of intense fear or discomfort, usually accompanied by a variety of physical symptoms. Panic attacks are typically quite short, peaking within 10 minutes.
Individuals with Panic Disorder frequently worry that their panic attacks will cause them to die or to lose control. As a result, most individuals with Panic Disorder make changes to their behavior to avoid future attacks, such as by limiting physical exercise, always knowing the quickest way to the doctor or a hospital, or refusing to return to locations where they experienced prior attacks. While this avoidance may decrease anxiety in the short term, it increases anxiety and, paradoxically, the likelihood of future panic attacks in the long term. Panic Disorder may occur with or without the presence of Agoraphobia.
Agoraphobia is a separate but related anxiety disorder in which the person has marked fear or anxiety about situations where escape may be difficult or help may be unavailable, such as being in crowds, being in enclosed spaces, being in wide open spaces, or being outside of the home alone.
Symptoms of panic Disorder with, or without, Agoraphobia vary across individuals, but may include one or more of the following:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Pounding heart or accelerated heart rate
- Chest or stomach pains
- Hot or cold flashes
- Tingling or numbness in limbs
- Feeling that your surroundings are unreal, or time is moving slowly
- Feeling that you are watching your own actions as an outside observer
- Fear of dying or losing control
- Persistent concern about having another panic attack
We at The Chicago Stress Relief Center specialize in the treatment of anxiety disorders including Panic Disorder with or without Agoraphobia, and have the necessary training and resources to deliver evidence-based treatment to Panic Disorder sufferers of all ages. We use Exposure and Response Prevention therapy (ERP) in the treatment of Panic Disorder, as this is the therapy treatment which has proven most effective for a variety of anxiety disorders. Through ERP, individuals with panic disorder learn to face their anxiety while decreasing their avoidance of normal bodily changes, such as increased heart rate or breathing. This helps them gradually gain their lives back from panic. If you or someone you know would benefit from our specialized Panic Disorder treatment services, please contact us at (847) 412-0922.