Wednesday, May 30, 2018 by Zoey Sky
Panic disorder refers to a type of anxiety disorder. An individual with the condition often has panic attacks, or they may suddenly feel scared even though there is no real danger. It can also make someone feel like they are losing control.
People with the condition can have panic attacks anywhere at any time, and without warning. Some individuals with panic disorder may live in fear of another attack, and they may avoid places where they have previously had an attack.
There are cases where people with panic disorder are overtaken by their fear and they may be unable to leave their homes.
Known side effects and risk factors for panic disorder
If a patient has had four or more panic attacks, or if they live in fear of having another panic attack after experiencing one, they may have a panic disorder.
A panic attack can last for 10 to 20 minutes. However, in extreme cases, the side effects of the disorder can last for over one hour. Individuals with the condition may have different experiences and the side effects they go through can vary.
The side effects of panic disorder usually include:
- Changes in mental state – e.g., feeling of unreality (de-realization) or being detached from oneself (de-personalization)
- Chest pain or tightness
- Fear that you might die
- Feeling like you are choking
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
- Racing heartbeat or palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Shaking or trembling
- Sweating or chills
The side effects of a panic attack usually happen for no clear reason and they are often disproportionate to the level of danger in the environment. Since these attacks are unpredictable, they can greatly affect an individual’s quality of life.
The fear of a panic attack or recalling a panic attack can also trigger another attack.
Risk factors for panic disorder may include:
- Age – The condition usually manifest among young adults, and panic disorder can start when someone is under a lot of stress.
- Gender – Panic disorder is more common in women than in men.
Body systems harmed by panic disorder
Panic disorder may cause the following complications:
- Alcohol or other substance abuse
- Avoidance of social situations
- Financial problems
- Heart disease
- Premature death
- School or work problems
- Specific irrational fears/phobias – e.g., fear of leaving home (agoraphobia)
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
Food items or nutrients that may prevent panic disorder
The following foods or nutrients can help prevent panic disorder and soothe its side effects:
- Dairy products – Dairy products like cheese, milk, and yogurt are full of calcium, protein, and vitamin D that can help stabilize blood sugar levels. Dairy products also have tryptophan, an amino acid that can help the brain produce chemicals linked to calmness.
- Fish and poultry – Fish and poultry are full of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and nutrients such as B-vitamins, iron, and zinc. Balanced meals with complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein can help alleviate the side effects of anxiety and improve overall health. Sources include albacore tuna, chicken, flounder, halibut, lake trout, salmon, and turkey.
- Fruits and vegetables – Fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidants and other nutrients that help protect you from disease and infections.
- Whole grains – Whole grains contain fiber, nutrients, and protein. They can help prevent mood swings and promote relaxation. Sources include 100 percent whole grain breads, long grain brown rice, old-fashioned oatmeal, pearled barley, and quinoa.
Treatments, management plans for panic disorder
Treatment for panic disorder aims to reduce or eliminate the side effects of the condition.
Treatments may include:
- Medication – Medication used to treat panic disorder may include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a class of antidepressant. SSRIs prescribed for panic disorder can include fluoxetine, paroxetine, and sertraline. However, these drugs can cause various side effects.
- Therapy – A qualified professional can facilitate cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) which will teach an individual how to change their thoughts and actions. CBT can help individuals understand attacks and manage their fear.
Where to learn more
Panic disorder refers to a type of anxiety disorder. An individual with the condition often has panic attacks, or they may suddenly feel scared even though there is no real danger.
The side effects of panic disorder usually include the fear that you might die, feeling like you are choking, lightheadedness, and nausea.
Treatment for panic disorder aims to reduce or eliminate the side effects of the condition. Treatment often includes medication or therapy.