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Video transcript

someone with panic disorder has frequent and repeated episodes of something called panic attacks these panic attacks are periods of intense fear and discomfort that something bad is going to happen these panic attacks can happen even in familiar places where no real threats exist they usually come about suddenly and peek within the first 10 to 20 minutes but sometimes symptoms can last for an hour or more people having a panic attack feel like there's some real threat or danger and when we feel this way our bodies react accordingly right this reaction can be so severe and so intense that some people having panic attacks feel as if they're having a heart attack or some other life-threatening illness when they're actually not symptoms that might come about during a panic attack are things like chest pain or discomfort dizziness fear of dying losing control or impending doom feelings of choking detachment or unreality nausea or upset stomach numbness or tingling in the hands or face palpitations which is like this feeling that your hearts pounding a shortness of breath sweating chills or hot flashes and trembling if you experienced four or more of any of these symptoms you might be diagnosed with a panic disorder unfortunately panic attacks can't be predicted and often happen without any particular trigger being involved with that said it's important to have treated as soon as possible before the patient starts to avoid places where they've happened in the past which is called avoidance and this is where a patient that's had a panic attack before stopped doing activities that they think trigger the panic attacks for example if someone has a panic attack while they're in an elevator they might think that that elevator triggered the attack and so they'll start avoiding going on elevators although this might help temporarily with the fear of attack and loss of control it makes normal daily life extremely difficult and doesn't usually even stop the attacks from happening along the same lines somebody might develop anxiety just thinking about the possibility of having a panic attack and this is called anticipatory anxiety this can result in the person becoming reclusive and choosing to endure the attacks alone rather than in public where they think there's no chance of escape and slight chance of help sometimes this can lead to the development of a specific phobia called agoraphobia which is a fear of being in public or crowded spaces like I mentioned though the cause of each panic attack usually isn't linked to any specific trigger and the cause of having panic disorder in general is unknown though it's been found to run in families which hints at there being some sort of genetic component also about twice as many women as men experienced panic disorder though there hasn't been found to be any differences between ethnic economic or geographic backgrounds usually panic disorder starts in the patient's 20s and sometimes a stressful event comes before the disorder and triggers the first attack but usually there aren't any specific events to associate with the attacks once it's been diagnosed by a mental health professional many patients will seek treatment and like most other mental disorders this involves either psychotherapy medication or both depending on what that particular patient responds best to now cognitive behavior therapy a form of psychotherapy is typically very effective and consists of five fundamentals when applied to panic disorder in the first stage called the learning stage the patient learns about panic disorder including how to identify the symptoms they also go over the treatment plan and then in the second stage which is called the monitoring stage the patient will keep a diary to monitor the panic attacks and record any situations that might produce anxiety in the third stage called the breathing stage they learn relaxation techniques to control breathing and help combat the physical reactions of a panic attack in the fourth stage is called rethinking where the therapist helps the patient change their beliefs about the physical symptoms from totally catastrophic to something more realistic and less harmful and finally in the exposing stage the therapist helps the patient expose themselves to situations that cause frightening physical sensation and gradually increases the intensity levels so that the patient starts to feel more and more comfortable being around whatever it is that produces the anxiety and awfully will reduce the likelihood of having a panic attack in the future besides cognitive behavior therapy though there are also medications that can be prescribed if these are chosen antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs are the most commonly prescribed medications for panic attacks anti-anxiety medications can sometimes also be prescribed like benzodiazepines and these will tend to have this calming and relaxing effect although these are typically less preferred since there's a higher risk of becoming dependent finally anti-seizure medications can also be prescribed in very severe cases over all between these treatment options many patients that get appropriate psychiatric care can recover and return to normal life activities