If you’ve experienced panic attacks in the past, you know just how real they are. The extreme anxiety and powerful fear that accompany a panic attack can literally feel life threatening. If you feel this way on a frequent basis, you may be experiencing symptoms of panic disorder.
As crazy as panic disorder can make you feel, it’s important to know you’re not alone. The National Institute for Mental Health reports that some 6 million adults in America have panic disorder. Regular panic attacks are more frequent than you might think, although the symptoms that accompany them can make you feel anything but ordinary.
What Causes Panic Disorder?
While it’s not completely understood what exactly causes panic disorder, it is believed to be caused by a variety of different effects. While a single panic attack may come on out of nowhere, recurring panic attacks are usually triggered by certain situations.
It’s easy to say one thing or another has caused an individual’s panic disorder, but living it is an entirely different story. If you’ve experienced panic attacks on a regular basis, you probably have some questions about why they keep recurring.
Some causes of panic disorder may include...
- Ongoing or Continual Stress,
- Genetics, or
- Exposure to Anxiety in Childhood.
Taking a deeper look into the probable causes of panic disorder makes it easier to figure out what might be personally causing your own panic attacks. When you understand why you’re panicking, it makes it much easier to figure out ways to deal with it.
If someone experiences enough stress for an extended amount of time, it’s only natural that they’re going to panic. Extended periods of high stress are not easy to deal with. Bad event upon bad event adds up to eventual disaster as coping with too much change can be next to impossible for many individuals to manage.
If your parents or grandparents experienced panic attacks, you’re way more likely to experience them yourself (and pass them on to your own children). DNA and our genetic blueprint make us predisposed to various mental and physical attributes, panic attacks included.
Anxiety Experienced in Childhood
Genetics aren’t the only thing we get from our families that will cause panic disorder as an adult. If you were raised by parents with anxiety or there were periods of extreme stress during your childhood, this could be the cause of your present-day panic disorder. Death, divorce, addiction, abuse, and bullying are all factors that can lead to panic disorder.
Symptoms of Panic Disorder
Anyone who’s suffered from panic attacks in the past can attest to one thing: They’re awful. And the emotional and physical symptoms that accompany them can make you feel like you’re living a waking nightmare. Having a single panic attack is bad enough, but having them on a regular basis can be downright devastating.
Emotional Signs of Panic Disorder
The emotional effects of panic disorder can seriously disturb one’s wellbeing over time. Some of the emotional symptoms of panic disorder include…
- Loss of Focus,
- Irritability, and
Physical Signs of Panic Disorder
The physical symptoms of panic disorder are very real, and many people who experience a panic attack often think they’re having a heart attack. The chest pain and heart palpitations that accompany full-blown panic attacks are very real and are often accompanied by the following other physical symptoms:
- Difficulty Breathing
- Increased Heart Rate
- Difficulty Breathing
Different Types of Panic Disorder
Panic disorder isn’t limited to one particular kind of panic attack experienced over and over again. There are a few different types of panic disorders that can happen to any individual at any time.
Anxiety and fear are the two main elements of panic disorder. The fear involved in panic disorder is acute and may cause some people to feel like they’re having a heart attack or even dying. Threat is a very real aspect of panic disorder as is excessive worry about when the next panic attack is going to happen.
Social Anxiety Disorder
For some, the thought of interacting with other people in public is too much to deal with. People who suffer from social anxiety disorder are often very shy in social situations and will avoid them for fear of what others will think about them.
Phobias can range from the fear of engaging in different activities to the fear of flying or heights. Individuals with phobias try their best to avoid situations where they’ll have to face their fear, even if it means going out of their way to avoid everyday situations.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive compulsive disorder causes regular worry about different thoughts and various behaviors. Keeping things organized a certain way, thinking things must be one way in order for things to run smoothly, worrying about things that may or may not happen, and doing things repeatedly (like washing your hands or counting to three before you turn on the car) are all examples of obsessive compulsive disorder symptoms.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
People who feel anxious “most” of the time with no explainable reason have what is known as general anxiety disorder. This is anxiety, worry, or fear that may be felt for weeks or even months at a time. There is also no real explanation why this persistent anxiety is experienced.
Natural Ways to Deal with Panic Disorder
Taking good care of mind, body, and soul is a great way to take care of panic disorder. While, in some cases, panic disorder may simply be unavoidable, there are ways to help calm anxiety and keep panic attacks at bay.
From getting the right amount of exercise and spending time in nature to eating a balanced diet and connecting with friends and loved ones, there are ways to lessen the severity and frequency of panic attacks. Reducing stress is also a very important factor in easing panic disorder, and stress relief techniques should be employed on a regular basis.
Are you someone who experiences symptoms of panic disorder? Have you found different methods that help you manage your symptoms? Are there certain techniques you’ve found that work better than others? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.