Panic attacks are events that stem from high anxiety and can happen when you least expect them. Some of the worst episodes can be mistaken for more dangerous medical events because of their physiological symptoms. Additionally, your racing mind might tell you that a panic attack won’t end or that it’s the end of your life.
When panic attacks happen frequently, they cross the line from generalized anxiety to panic disorder. Around 2.7% of adults in the United States suffer from panic disorder. The unexpected nature of panic attacks can lead to impairment, which may cause you to miss work, social functions, obligations, or even cause you to avoid leaving your home altogether.
The good news is there are treatment options available that can help you regain control of your life. The providers at Alpha Care Medical are experts in treating this condition, and in this blog, they explain the basics of panic disorder and how the condition can be treated.
The basics of panic disorder
As mentioned, panic disorder is a condition in which panic attacks occur frequently. Some experts theorize that panic attacks happen because of overactive survival instincts, which signal a release of hormones, such as adrenaline. This causes the body to react like it's in danger when it’s not.
When panic attacks occur, they can be deceiving, because they often involve physical pain and other physiological symptoms that might fool you into thinking something’s wrong with your cardiovascular system or nervous system. With a panic attack, your anxiety level ramps up from its baseline to the extreme, which can lead to:
- A sense of lost control
- Intense fear or impending doom
- Chest pain
- A racing heart
- Heart palpitations
- Stomach pain
Panic attacks can affect your well-being even when you’re not in the middle of one, too. This is because you might avoid people, actions, or places that have triggered panic attacks in the past. You might also feel extreme worry about when or where your next panic attack will happen or take major precautions to prepare yourself for the worst.
Diagnosis and treatment
To get the help you need, your provider at Alpha Care Medical will aim to get to the bottom of what’s causing your symptoms and develop a treatment plan.
Diagnosing panic disorder
First, your provider will likely perform a psychiatric evaluation. This will help your provider confirm if you suffer from panic disorder and to what extent. It will also help your provider uncover any potential factors that could be triggering your panic attacks.
Your provider will also likely review details about your life, such as your personal history, family history, and environment.
Furthermore, your provider may also order lab testing and other tests to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms you’re experiencing. With all of this information, your provider should be able to uncover what’s causing your symptoms and develop a plan to help you get relief.
Treating panic disorder
When it comes to treatment, your plan may involve behavioral therapy, medications, or both.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the best-studied types of psychotherapy and can train you to manage your fear and anxiety to reduce panic attacks. Through CBT, you can learn to recognize the thoughts and feelings that lead to panic attacks and change how you react to them.
Prescription medications aren’t always necessary to manage panic disorder, but some types can help. Certain options, such as antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and beta blockers can regulate the chemicals in your brain and body that lead to panic attacks and their symptoms.
If you’re prescribed medications, you’ll need to make sure to take them according to your physician’s specific instructions. You should also know that some medications can take time before they start having an effect.
If you have frequent panic attacks, you don’t have to keep putting up with them. We can help you regain control over your life. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Alpha Care Medical today. We have locations in Seaford, Millsboro, Harrington, and Dover, Delaware.