What is Panic Disorder?
By Yuang Cheng
Causes: mental conditions, genetics, and ACE.
Symptoms include nausea, throat tightness, chest pain, etc.
Potential treatments: therapy, rehabilitation, exercise, and so on.
Although most people experience a panic attack at least once or twice in their lifetime, it usually passes quickly. However, those with Panic Disorder, an anxiety disorder, experience panic attacks frequently and over an elongated timeframe. So what are the causes of Panic Disorder, the symptoms, and the potential treatments?
A panic attack itself is caused by hyperventilation (loss of control over the rhythm of one’s breathing), which leads to an excess amount of oxygen in the bloodstream and the sensation of dizziness. The adrenaline which your body releases causes irregular pumping of the heart and thus severe pain in the chest area, similar to the pain of a heart attack.
Panic Disorders are very often genetic, and those with first degree relatives have a 40% higher chance of having Panic Disorders.
Depression, Anxiety, stress (often caused by deaths of loved ones or chronic illnesses), physical or sexual abuse can all exacerbate panic attacks and increase their frequencies.
Adverse Childhood Experiences, also known as ACE, are traumatic or stress-inducing events occurring anytime to people aged 1 to 17. People who have gone through ACE see a higher chance of Panic Disorder.
There is a wide range of symptoms for panic attacks. The most prominent are the feeling of imminent doom or danger (especially fear of death or the uncontrollable), shaking, throat tightness, nausea, chest pain, quickened heartbeat, etc.
The treatments for Panic Disorder vary, with therapy, more exercise, rehabilitation from caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes being a few. Seeking professional medical help is always advised.
How to Help Someone Who is Having a Panic Attack
If you are with someone who is having a panic attack and there is no immediate medical assistance/personnels nearby, you can try to help them by giving them these instructions in a calm and serious tone: have them close their mouth (even have them place a finger on it) and slow down their breathing, instruct them to breathe slower and through their nose, have them sit down, and ask them how they feel when they seem able to talk. Make sure that your sentences are simple and easily understandable when you speak to them.
If you experience a panic attack, you can reduce its effect on your body by simply reminding yourself you are having a panic attack and not a fatal health crisis.