Sherry was enjoying a little retail therapy at the mall when suddenly she felt her heart pounding out of her chest. Unsure of what was happening, she decided she’d better get home. As she headed for the exit doors, the storebegan to spin around her. She was light-headed, and was having difficulty breathing. By the time she made it to her car, Sherry was drenched in sweat and trembling with chills. An inordinate feeling of dread washed over her.
As she sat alone in her car, she tried to walk herself through whatever was happening by taking deep breaths, and telling herself she would be ok. Unsure if she should call her husband, her doctor, or dial 911, Sherry just sat in her car and closed her eyes for a moment as she tried to pull her thoughts together. Eventually, the symptoms subsided and she was able to drive herself home. This was the first time she had ever experienced anything so horrible, but it would not be her last. Sherry had a panic attack, and this triggered a long-term panic disorder.
Panic disorders are serious conditions that can strike without warning. During a panic attack, fears become disproportionate to the situation. This is not to say that these attacks are based purely in fear and emotional responses. They’re not. Although exact causes are not fully understood, studies have shown that a combination of factors come in to play.
Family history undoubtedly plays a part, and panic disorders are often passed from one generation to the next, just like hair and eye color. Others have abnormalities in the brain which cause the nervous center to involuntarily over-react without reason. Substance and alcohol abuse are also contributors. As are stressful life events. One of the most common life triggers is the loss of a loved one. If this has been the case for you, you are not weak, weird, or in any way experiencing something out of the norm.
Panic disorders affect 2.4 million Americans, and are twice as common in women as in men. And sadly, many with the disorders go undiagnosed and untreated—never telling anyone about their experience, never seeing a doctor, and living in constant fear of when and where the next attack might happen.
That’s no way to live.
Doctors can use various methods for diagnosing the disorder, and once confirmed there are many treatment options which include one or more of the following: medication, psychotherapy, cognitive therapy, relaxation techniques, breath control, visualization, acupuncture, and yoga.
Without treatment, quality of life can be severely impaired. With treatment, more than 90 percent of people find relief. Don’t miss out on the good things life has for you. Find the peace you deserve by contacting your medical professional today.