Panic disorder is characterized by a state of extreme panic, always haunted by the thought that bad situations are about to arise. Physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, increased blood pressure, pale face, trembling limbs also appear at the same time, causing the patient to even faint on the spot.
What is panic disorder?
Panic Disorder (PD) is a form of anxiety disorder that is characterized by excessive panic attacks, with the idea that serious situations are imminent. Panic attacks are often sudden, brief, and cause both mental and physical symptoms.
The situations and events that cause the patient to panic are often very diverse, sometimes hearing the sound of a motorbike louder than usual also triggers extreme stressful emotions. This condition occurs with increasing frequency and intensity, seriously affecting the quality of life of each person.
A panic attack usually lasts only 15 seconds, but the consequences continue for 5 to 30 minutes, maybe even an hour. Patients in panic attacks, if not properly controlled and supported, will appear impulsive, agitated, and harmful to themselves and those around them. Panic disorder symptoms can appear at any time, in any situation.
Patients themselves may find their panic irrational but do nothing to control it. Some people will avoid going out so as not to trigger a panic attack. This seriously affects the patient’s life, spirit, work and relationships.
Symptoms of panic disorder
The symptoms of panic disorder are both mental and physical, which can affect a person’s behaviour. Some people only experience symptoms of anxiety or panic in a few situations, while others become panicky about everything.
A panic attack is defined as a panic disorder when more than 4 of the following signs are present:
- Feeling restless, nervous, heart palpitations
- Sweating even when it’s very cold
- Trembling, legs can’t stand, hands can’t hold
- Short of breath, difficult to breathe like when climbing a long staircase
- Throat feeling
- Chest pain, chest discomfort, some people feel like a heart attack or about to die
- Abdominal discomfort, nausea, possibly vomiting
- Dizziness, loss of balance, dizziness, fainting
- Chills, shivers or also a feeling of hot flashes
- It feels like the skin is stinging, numb and tingling like ants crawling
- Feeling out of place, mind drifting away from reality
- Losing control over your emotions and behaviors
- Afraid of death, worried that something bad is about to happen, and feeling hopeless
- When experiencing panic events can become agitated, screaming, panicking
- Knock your fingers on the table or tend to grasp or squeeze something
These psychological cues form some of the avoidant manifestations of the patient’s behavior. Specifically
- Do everything slowly, gently, slowly for fear of a rapid increase in heart rate
- People with panic disorder often tend to care too much about their health, they can buy a heart rate monitor, a blood pressure monitor and take it out regularly, if the readings are too high, they will become even more panicked. more chaotic
- Avoid places or locations where they have had a panic attack for fear that those feelings will return. For example, if they have ever been startled, haunted by birds at the park, they will never return there, even tend to find another way to not have to go through that park.
- Often has difficulty being alone or going out alone, or is required to have a loved one by her side if she goes out
- Often just want to stay at home, don’t want to go out, even to work
Causes of panic disorder
Currently, studies have not found the exact cause of panic disorder. Deficiencies in neurotransmitters, traumatic events from the past, or problems around the person’s life are thought to be at risk for panic disorder.
Specifically, factors thought to be associated with panic disorder include
- Deficiencies in brain chemicals like serotonin and epinephrine are thought to be directly linked to people with panic disorder. These neurotransmitters are known as happiness hormones, when the body releases serotonin and epinephrine you will feel happier. Deficiency of serotonin and epinephrine will increase stress, stress, fatigue as well as other psychological problems
- Although no genes for the inheritance of panic disorder have been found, the day-to-day education, communication, and interaction with children of parents with panic disorder can make their children more susceptible to the effects of panic disorder. increased risk of disease
- People who have experienced horrendous events, such as kidnapping, traffic accidents, rape or serious illnesses may be haunted by these and become easily frightened, startled, more anxious
- In people who drink alcohol, stimulants will have a higher risk of disease than normal
- Women are at higher risk than men
- People with stress, excessive stress because of family, work, love
Consequences of panic disorder
Panic disorder is a psychological problem but the consequences it causes on both health, mental and life of each person. Some people have to attach their lives to the emergency room because they always think that they are in danger, about to die, so when they panic, they often go to the hospital immediately.
People with panic disorder themselves can increase their risk of health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stomach problems. They hardly have a stable sleep because they always feel panic, which also seriously affects their health.
A common problem in people with panic disorder is a lack of social, communication, or situational skills. Because they do not feel secure when going out, most of these people choose to stay indoors, some can live completely dependent on their families.
Some patients may develop agoraphobia. The DSM Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders previously documented panic disorder often associated with agoraphobia. However, in the latest editions, these two diseases have been separated.
Panic disorder also increases the risk of other psychological problems such as depression, emotional disorders, and personality disorders if not treated early. Therefore, absolutely do not be subjective with the symptoms of the disease.
Directions for the treatment of panic disorder
Patients need to go to psychiatric hospitals or psychological centers to do some tests to accurately check the disease. The doctor will give the patient a number of tests, determine with the patient when symptoms appear (over 6 months) if all the criteria are met, it will be diagnosed as panic disorder.
Patients need to strictly follow the instructions from psychiatrists and psychologists to ensure the best treatment results and avoid other unfortunate consequences. Treatment usually lasts at least 6 months, but some people need to see their doctor regularly to prevent a recurrence of symptoms.
The correct use of drugs can control excessive anxiety and panic states for the patient, but does not work to completely eliminate the disease. If symptoms improve within the first 6 months, the doctor will gradually reduce the dose and stop it completely in about 30 months.
The most commonly prescribed drug classes are benzodiazepines (alprazolam, lorazepam, clonazepam and diazepam); tricyclic antidepressants (amitriptyline, doxepin, nortriptyline, desipramine) or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
However, these drugs often come with many side effects. Especially the sedative group, if overused, can lead to drug addiction, unable to sleep without drugs. Therefore, patients and families need to control the use of drugs exactly as prescribed by the doctor.
In fact, according to patients, taking these drugs for a long time makes them feel like they are no longer themselves, not feeling happy or sad. Therefore, panic disorder cannot depend entirely on drug treatment, but it needs to be combined with psychotherapy and healthier lifestyle changes to quickly return to a normal life.
Panic disorder is a psychological problem, so it is also necessary to apply psychological measures to solve it. Psychotherapy will be through talking with the patient to find the root of the problem from within, guide the patient on how to control emotions, eliminate vague worries to lead a more positive life.
In particular, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is evaluated as the most suitable method for patients with panic disorder. CBT helps patients understand that their worries are irrational, re-evaluate their own beliefs, and thereby deal with current panic attacks with healthier and more effective methods.
Exposure therapy or psychodynamic psychotherapy is also combined to raise awareness and help patients face their own fears. Patients who respond well to the therapist’s requirements can have a fairly good prognosis.
However, to achieve this requires the patient to really trust and dare to openly share their problems with a psychologist. The patient himself, if he conceals his thoughts or condition, will not be able to completely treat the disease.
Care and treatment at home
The direction of care and treatment at home is also extremely important in the treatment of panic disorder. It should be known that people who are prone to psychological problems tend to be negative and psychologically quite weak, so if there is no change after treatment, the disease is still very easy to recur.
Parents should also be involved in the home care and treatment process for people with anxiety disorders so that symptoms can be improved as quickly as possible. Family is the strongest shoulder you can rely on to get through this difficult time.
Some guidelines for care and treatment for panic disorder patients to be aware of include:
- Daily meditation practice is a great therapy to help patients balance their mind, relax their mind, remove stress and direct their mind to more positive values.
- To control agitated behaviors when panicking, the patient can practice breathing exercises to quickly regain composure.
- Make sure to get enough sleep every day to keep your mind alert and optimistic. Lack of sleep will easily make the spirit agitated and more easily startled
- Exercise every day through running, swimming, cycling. Team sports can make the patient panic in the beginning, but if you dare to face and overcome this stage, it will bring a lot of good value to the treatment.
- See problems in a more positive way, step by step overcome your difficult emotions
- Share your feelings, worries with relatives or friends to seek help
- Absolutely do not use alcohol, tobacco or stimulants because it will aggravate the panic state
- Practicing yoga, tai chi or tai chi is also very good in controlling the patient’s breathing, negative emotions or agitation.
- Practice exercises according to instructions from doctors and therapists
- Join groups with like-minded people to increase connections, improve social skills, and return to normal life sooner
- At first, you can invite relatives to go out, then gradually learn to go alone because only when you dare to face your fear will the symptoms improve. Let’s start from exiting the gate, out to the alley, out to the main road and further to the mall, the places where you have had a panic attack. Once you feel the safety of these places, the fear gradually disappears
- Talk to your doctor right away if your symptoms do not improve or you have thoughts of wanting to die or commit suicide for timely support.
Panic disorder will cause serious effects on the mental, health and life of each patient, so it should be treated as soon as possible. Changing the scientific lifestyle, mental relaxation, and leading a positive and optimistic lifestyle will help limit the risk of this dangerous disease.