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|Posted By : Dr.AMBRISH SINGAL-PSYCHIATRIST & SEXOLOGIST [ACS-USA], M.D (Psychiatry) FIPS, MAPA, MAASECT, FCSEPI, MWASH,ACS|
|Posted On : 31 Oct 2007 (Total Views : 3461)|
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Symptoms of Panic Disorder?
Do you experience sudden episodes of intense and overwhelming fear that seem to come on for no apparent reason? During these episodes, do you also experience several of the following:
During these episodes, do you have the urge to flee, or the feeling that you need to escape?
During these episodes, do you think something terrible might happen-that you might die, have a heart attack, suffocate, lose control, or embarrass yourself? Do you worry a lot about these episodes or fear that they will happen again? And does this fear cause you to avoid places or situations that you think might have triggered the attack?
If you answered yes to most of these questions, chances are you are suffering from panic disorder. If so, you are not alone. Panic disorder is very different from everyday anxiety. More than 3 million American adults have, or will have, panic disorder at some time in their lives. Most frequently, it starts in young adulthood. Usually, it does not go away by itself. But with proper treatment, people with panic disorder can be helped.
Why Seeking Treatment Is Critical
Repeated episodes of fear-commonly called panic attacks-that are typical of panic disorder can be devastating. The panic attacks, or avoidance of them, can completely take control of your life.
You do not have to live this way. You need to know that panic disorder is treatable. In fact, proper treatment completely prevents panic attacks in 70 to 90 percent of people. Many people feel substantial relief in just weeks.
Unfortunately, some people are reluctant to pursue treatment. Perhaps they think their condition is not serious. Perhaps they feel embarrassed. They may blame themselves or have trouble asking for help. Perhaps they dislike the idea of medication or therapy. Or, maybe they have sought help but are frustrated because their condition was not diagnosed or treated effectively.
Do not let these or any other reasons stop you from getting proper treatment. If you have panic disorder, you should get whatever help is necessary to overcome it, just as you would for any serious medical illness. Do not be discouraged if some people say, "It's nothing to worry about," "It's just stress," "It's all in your head," or "Snap out of it." While they often mean well, the fact is that most people who do not have panic disorder do not understand that it is REAL and, therefore, tend to doubt its seriousness.
Most importantly, do not try to numb the effects of panic attacks with alcohol or other drugs. This will only make the problem worse.
Getting A Diagnosis
Since panic disorder can mimic a variety of medical conditions, such as heart problems and digestive complaints, the first thing you should do is have a full psychiatric evaluation.
Although it is important for you and your doctor to concentrate on your physical symptoms, you should not overlook the emotional aspects of your attacks. You should tell your doctor anything you notice about how your attacks make you feel and when they usually occur.
Information on both the physical and emotional aspects of the attacks can be very useful to the doctor in making a diagnosis. For example, the doctor will want to know if your attacks, or fear of having attacks, keep you from carrying out any of your normal activities.
Many people with panic disorder also suffer from depression-feelings of intense sadness, even hopelessness, an impaired ability to think, concentrate, and enjoy the normal pleasures of life. Be sure to make your doctor aware of these symptoms as well. If you have been drinking or using drugs to try to control your symptoms, let your doctor know about that too.
Effective Treatments For Panic Disorder
Treatment for panic disorder can consist of taking a medication to adjust the chemicals in your body-just as you might take medicine to correct a thyroid imbalance or the treatment might involve working with a psychotherapist to gain more control over your anxieties--just as some people work with specialists to learn techniques to control their blood pressure.
Research shows that both kinds of treatment can be very effective. For many patients, the combination of medication and psychotherapy appears to be more effective than either treatment alone. Early treatment can help keep panic disorder from progressing.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) teaches you to anticipate and prepare yourself for the situations and bodily sensations that may trigger panic attacks. CBT usually includes the following elements:
CBT generally requires at least 8 to 12 weeks. Most panic disorder patients are successful in controlling or preventing their panic attacks after completing treatment with CBT. CBT requires a motivated patient and a specially trained therapist. Make sure any therapist you work with has proper training and experience in this method of panic disorder treatment. Indeed, in our country, there are limited professionals trained and experienced in CBT.
Several types of medication that alter the ways chemicals interact in the brain can reduce or prevent panic attacks and decrease anxiety. Two major categories of medication that have been shown to be safe and effective in the treatment of panic disorder are antidepressants and benzodiazepines.
Each medication works differently. Some work quickly and others more gradually. All of them have to be taken on a regular basis. Usually, treatment with medication lasts at least 6 months to a year. But within 8 weeks, you and your doctor should be able to assess whether it's effectively blocking the panic attacks. Clinical experience suggests that for many patients with panic disorder, a combination of CBT and medication may be the best treatment..
How To Choose The Right Treatment For You
A psychiatrist is the professional who have the training and experience needed to treat panic disorder. Sometimes panic disorder patients need treatment by both by a psychiatrist as well as psychologist.
Many people begin looking for treatment by visiting their family doctor or a local clinic or health maintenance organization. Other places to seek help include your local health department or community mental health clinic. When seeking a health care professional to treat your panic disorder, you may want to ask the following questions:
How To Make Your Treatment Successful
From the beginning, it is important to be a full participant in your treatment. Be active and assertive. Ask questions. Maintain open communication with your treatment professional and let him or her know your concerns.
Every patient responds differently, but it is important to know that none of the treatments for panic disorder works instantly. So, you must stick with a particular treatment for at least 8 weeks to see if it works. If you do not see significant improvement within that time, you and your treatment professional can adjust your treatment plan. It may take a bit of trial and error before you find what works best for you. Be patient and be sure to communicate with your treatment professional.
If your treatment involves medication, talk with your doctor about how often and in what manner your dosage will be monitored. No matter what medication you are taking, your doctor is likely to start you on a low dose and gradually increase it to the full dose. You should know that every medication has side effects, but they usually become tolerated or diminish with time. If side effects become a problem, the doctor may advise you to stop taking the medication and to wait a week or so before trying another medication. When your treatment is near an end, your doctor will taper the dosage gradually.
Take The Next Step Today
Panic disorder is far too serious-and far too treatable-to delay getting help. Recognizing the situation is the first step to recovery. Now take the next step. If you think you may have panic disorder, act now. See your psychiatrist for a diagnosis and then follow the suggestions and educate yourself about your condition. The more you know about panic attacks and panic disorder, the better you will understand your role in treatment.
Remember, Panic Disorder Is Very Treatable. You Can Get Better.
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