More on Panic Disorder

Panic Disorder is a highly distressing anxiety disorder which has the potential, if untreated, to severely handicap the sufferer. Many famous people are believed to have suffered from Panic Disorder, including Edvard Munch, the creator of the painting The Scream. Munch was known to suffer from panic attacks and many people believe his painting to be an attempt to portray the sheer terror and fear which accompanies a full-blown panic attack.

Typical situations avoided by people who suffer from panic attacks include:

Shopping malls
Being away from the safety of home
Saying home alone
Crowded places where escape is difficult
Traffic lights

Even normal daily activities are often avoided by sufferers in case a panic attack is precipitated:

Hot, stuffy rooms
Very hot weather
Very cold weather
Running up a flight of stairs
Aerobics and other physical activities
Watching action or horror movies
Heated arguments
Drinking coffee or other stimulants
Standing quickly from a sitting position
Lifting heavy objects
Taking a sauna
Any form of sport

Clearly, the onset of Panic Disorder disrupts life to a marked degree. Women are much more affected than men, but this is believed to be due to cultural differences. Men are less likely to admit to feeling “frightened” in a completely safe place, such as a shopping mall. As mentioned in a previous article, alcoholism is extremely prevalent in male alcoholics.

Avoidance and using alcohol are two of the commonest ways to deal with panic attacks. Fortunately, there are better ways. Knowledge and education about the disorder, while not eliminating the condition, will at least reassure the sufferer that these excruciatingly painful attacks will not actually kill them, which is a common belief among sufferers.

Panic arises for many reasons, and counseling can help address some of the problems situations which may have allowed the panic to occur at the outset. Counseling, medication and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) are the treatments of choice for this disorder. These will be discussed in coming articles.

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