Panic Disorder - Description






Most people experience moments of anxiety. They worry about money, their job, the future, or some other issue. But panic disorder is far more serious. It is a chronic (long-lasting), crippling condition that can have a devastating impact on a person's family, work, and social life. Panic disorder is thought to affect about one in every sixty Americans.

The first panic attack can strike a person anywhere. Suddenly, for no good reason, the person has a sense of impending doom. His or her palms begin to sweat, and the heart begins to beat wildly.

Agoraphobia:
A fear of open spaces.
Anxiety:
Feeling troubled, uneasy, or worried.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy:
A form of counseling designed to help patients change the way they think about their problems and change the way they respond to those problems.
Neurotransmitters:
Chemicals that help carry messages between nerve cells in the brain.
Serotonin:
An important neurotransmitter in the brain.

Panic attacks usually last only a few seconds or minutes. But they are terrifying. People who have experienced a panic attack begin to wonder and worry about when the next attack will occur. They will start to avoid situations that might trigger an attack. In extreme cases, patients may become so frightened that they refuse to leave their homes. This condition is known as agoraphobia (pronounced AG-uh-ruh-FO-bee-uh).

People who have untreated panic disorder are likely to have problems holding a job. They may become depressed, begin to abuse drugs, and even commit suicide.

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