The purpose of this material is to explain Panic Anxiety Disorder. It may help you to decide if you are having panic attacks. If there is reason to suspect Panic Anxiety Disorder, the article suggests a reasonable approach to take so that a proper diagnosis can be made and, if necessary, treatment begun. This is intended for educational information only. Treatment for appendicitis is not a ‘do it yourself’ project. Neither is treatment for Panic Anxiety Disorder.
Each person is an individual and we treat each case as such. There are no “cookie cutter” programs or answers.If you feel you need help, contact us, we will help to find the answers you need.
A Case History
Ann was watching television after a typical workday. She suddenly developed a peculiar and very strong feeling of being lightheaded and a smothering sensation as if there were no oxygen in the air she was breathing. Then a surge of pounding rapid heartbeat began. It came on so quickly and was so severe that she became panicked that she might be dying of a heart attack! Then she felt very shaky, sweaty, and unsteady. This whole experience reached peak intensity within 60 seconds. This was the eighth such attack this month.
“Panic” was hardly the word to describe how terrified she was feeling. It went beyond any feeling of fear that she had ever experienced. Although she had gone to the emergency room several times, nothing seemed to be found by the doctors to explain why she kept having the attacks.
She frantically searched for her car keys so that she could get to the hospital immediately. She thought desperately, “What’s wrong with me?”
What a panic attack feels like.
The main symptom of a Panic Anxiety Disorder is the panic attack itself. Panic Anxiety Disorder is a medical disorder characterized by severe and sudden episodes.
It is important to mention that sudden episodes of the symptoms listed above caused by another reasonable cause are not panic attacks. Two such reasonable causes would be (1) a certain medical ailment that might mimic a panic attack, or (2) a life threatening experience immediately preceding the attack. If these reasonable causes are found not be the cause of the problem then there is the possibility of a Panic Disorder.
Panic attacks reach maximum intensity within a minute or two once they begin. They diminish slowly over the next 30 minutes or the next several hours. It is common for the first attack to cause a person to go to an emergency medical facility. Subsequent attacks occur several times a month and are often as severe as the initial attack.
About three fourths of Panic Disorder patients are women. Panic Anxiety Disorder begins most often when people are 20-30 years old. It begins less often in teenagers or persons in their forties. It is uncommon for the disorder to appear in the elderly for the first time.
It is important to note that although a few experts say it is more common in persons who experienced a separation experience as a child, many of experts feel that Panic Anxiety Disorder afflicts emotionally healthy people. Persons having Panic attacks are no more likely than the average American to have suffered from emotional problems at the time the disorder begins.
Symptoms of a Panic Attack
• raging heartbeat
• difficulty breathing, feeling as though you ‘can’t get enough air
• terror that is almost paralyzing
• nervous, shaking, stress
• heart palpitation, feeling of dread
• dizziness, lightheadedness or nausea
• trembling, sweating, shaking
• choking, chest pains, distress
• fear, fright, afraid, anxious
• hot flashes, or sudden chills
• tingling in fingers or toes (’pins and needles’)
• fearful that you’re going to go crazy or are about to die
Afraid of Something.
Persons experiencing repetitive, severe panic attacks may simply have panic attacks and that is all. Other persons may begin to experience a progression of bothersome or distressing panic attack “side effects”. This progression commonly occurs as follows:
1. A few weeks or months prior to the first panic attack there are sometimes minor symptoms such as rapid heart beat. The first major panic attack occurs. The person often seeks emergency medical evaluation at this time. The initial examination is commonly normal. Continued panic attacks cause the person to seek further medical evaluations which may be inconclusive. Many panic attack sufferers go for months or years before receiving the proper diagnosis and by that time may have seen over a dozen physicians, psychologists and counselors. This appearance of “doctor shopping” may cause others to regard the sufferer as a hypochondriac. An individual with Panic Anxiety Disorder may begin to avoid a certain activity because it occurs to them that it would be especially embarrassing or dangerous to have a panic attack while engaged in that activity. A typical sufferer of Panic Anxiety Disorder might think, “It’s bad enough to have a panic attack at all, but it would be dangerous to have one on the Interstate because I would be preoccupied with the attack and would not be a safe driver. I might wreck my car, injuring myself or someone else!” This avoidance behavior may appear to be a fear of driving when it is really a fear of having a panic attack while driving. Tendencies to avoid circumstances in everyday life may increase and extend to more activities. This extensive avoidance behavior is referred to as agoraphobia.
Places, activities or circumstances frequently avoided by persons with Panic Anxiety Disorder include the following:
6. After months or years of continuous panic attacks and the restricted lifestyle caused by the typical avoidance behavior, the sufferer of Panic Anxiety Disorder may become demoralized and psychologically or physically depressed.
Some sufferers turn to alcohol in an attempt to self medicate or to diminish the symptoms of the disorder. This greatly complicates the individual’s life and ability to seek appropriate treatment.
Tragically, one out of every five untreated sufferers attempts to end his or her life, never realizing that there was hope and treatment available.
Is There Damage?
A person will not die from a panic attack. But, Panic Anxiety Disorder does indeed cause damage. It is difficult to estimate the misery and loss of overall productivity that this disorder causes.
There is personal pain and humiliation and a restricted lifestyle. There are missed days of work due to panic attacks. There may be unemployment due to partial or complete disability. There is increased risk of alcoholism, depression and suicide.
Add the unhappiness the disorder causes in the loved ones of Panic Anxiety Disorder and the consequential loss of their productivity. You come to realize that the total magnitude of the damage that the disorder causes nationally is staggering. And we haven’t even touched on the tremendous cost that the waste of misdiagnosis and unnecessary or inappropriate medical care adds to the damage estimate. Drug and alcohol abuse are the number one public concern of Americans. However, Anxiety Disorders affect more Americans than the combined toll of drug and alcohol abuse. And yet Anxiety Disorders are not even in the top fifty of Americans’ public concerns The federal government has developed a plan to deal with this problem.
CAUSES & TREATMENT What causes Panic Anxiety Disorder?
Twenty years ago Panic Anxiety Disorder was poorly understood even by most experts. It was called Anxiety Neurosis and was thought by some to stem from “deeply rooted” psychological conflicts and subconscious upsetting impulses of a sexual nature.
Now we regard Panic Anxiety Disorder as more of a physical problem with a metabolic core. It is not an emotional problem, although after suffering from it, emotionally healthy persons may develop depression or other problems. There are different theories about where in the nervous system the problem exists.
There is considerable evidence pointing toward an abnormality in the function of the locus ceruleus and its associated nerve pathways. The locus ceruleus is a tiny nerve center in the brainstem (the part of the brain that controls heartbeat, breathing and other vital functions).
Few experts still cling to the notion that this is not a physical disorder. Scientific evidence clearly favors there being a physical cause of panic attacks. It is regarded as a physical disorder much like Diabetes or Pneumonia…. which we know there are natural cures and treatments for.
There is no hope and help… is what many “specialists” and Doctors will say. Whether you choose to believe that and live with this problem is your choice, however we believe different.
Is there hope for persons with Panic Anxiety Disorder? Yes. Panic Anxiety Disorder is very treatable. And nearly everyone responds well to proper treatment.
The medical industry would like you to believe that the only way to remove this from your life is through Treatment which consists of several steps, first, as always, Drug you: Here is an excerpt from the medical journal for Panic Anxiety Disorder Treatment;
– Find a medication which can eliminate the panic attacks completely, if at all possible. Psychiatrists experienced in treating Panic Anxiety Disorder have had success using any one of three kinds of medicines:
1. Certain Antidepressants. Tofranil (imipramine) and Paxil (paroxetine) are examples of old and new antidepressants that are useful in treating Panic Anxiety Disorder.
Though approved by the FDA for treating depression, most antidepressants will block panic attacks.
Successful treatment requires full strength dosage and it usually takes four to eight weeks for the medicine to begin to block the panic attacks. Perhaps half of persons trying this type of medicine are made initially worse to some degree. Certain properties of the medicines tend to trigger more than the usual number of attacks in the first couple of weeks or so. But this discomfort may have to be considered a short term investment in return for a long term gain of recovery. As a rule, the less expensive antidepressants (Tofranil) have more bothersome side effects than the newer more expensive ones (Paxil) .
Here are some examples of antidepressants known by clinicians to be helpful for Panic Anxiety Disorder:
If you have done any research at all about the above named drugs, you will know that the last this they will do is help you and in some cases create many and much worse problems in your life and your body.
As each person should be treated as an individual, and each case is unique, some of the natural cures of Panic Anxiety Disorder that we have found to work are;
– Nutrition: Cutting out Processed foods. Foods containing Sugar, (Read our article on Sugars and their substitutes to see what this is doing to your body; http://allhealthstudio.com/sugar-good-bad-what-do-you-think.php ), and Dairy Products
– Exercise: Getting out and exercising, breathing fresh air and getting your heart pumping enough to make you sweat
– Sleep: It is imperative to get enough rest so that your body can go into full repair mode, this only happens when you get the correct amount of sleep.
– Products: Stop taking so many products. It is not necessary to take every pill and product out there… You should be fully aware of what your body requires and why you would take something. It is better to be clean then to be popping pills and taking stuff… All the deaths you hear about on the news due to people popping all kinds of stuff, usually prescribed to them by a “Specialist” or Doctor.
– Detox: Clean your body and your Organs. There are a number of very good natural ways to detox and clean your body, this should be done at least every 6 months.