Panic disorder is a common mental health condition that affects about 2.7% of the adult population aged 18 and older in the United States. It also impacts children and adolescents, with about 2.3% of adolescents experiencing panic disorder in the United States. Panic disorder is considered an anxiety disorder and is diagnosed under the category of anxiety in the most recent version of the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders or DSM, alongside other anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, separation anxiety disorder, and more. So, you might wonder, what exactly is panic disorder? How does it differ from other anxiety disorders? This article will go over what panic disorder entails, how panic attacks and anxiety attacks differ, and how to know if you could have a panic disorder.
What Is Panic Disorder?
Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by recurring panic attacks and fear of future panic attacks. Panic attacks are sudden episodes of intense fear that pair with a number of physical symptoms. According to the National Institute Of Mental Health (NIMH), among people with panic disorder, about 44.8% had a serious or severe impairment as a result of the disorder, where about 29.5% had a moderate impairment, and 25.7% had mild impairment. Panic attacks and panic disorder can be debilitating, but if you have panic disorder, you aren't alone, and treatment can help. The only way to know if you have a panic disorder for sure is to see a medical or mental health professional, but understanding one's symptoms and wanting help for those symptoms is typically the first step to getting support from a professional.
What Happens When You Have A Panic Attack?
If you're searching for an "am I having a panic attack quiz," Understanding the symptoms that can occur during a panic attack might be able to help you. Here are some of the potential symptoms that people experience when having a panic attack:
- Trembling or shaking
- Difficulty breathing
- A rapid heartbeat or heart palpitations
- Feeling as though when is choking or being smothered.
- Feeling faint, lightheaded, or dizzy
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Fear of losing control
- GI distress, including abdominal pain or nausea
- Dissociation or derealization
- Chills or feeling hot
Panic attacks are frightening. One might even fear that they are dying or having a heart attack due to the symptoms of a panic attack, particularly if they have a severe attack. This is why, after someone experiences a panic attack, many fear having another panic attack.
Anxiety Attacks Vs. Panic Attacks
Many people search for terms like, "what's the difference between an anxiety attack and a panic attack?", "anxiety attacks versus panic attacks," or "anxiety or panic attack test." despite sounding similar, an anxiety attack and a panic attack are different things. Anxiety attacks are symptomatically less severe and less sudden than a panic attack. When someone says that they are having an anxiety attack, it is often an informal way to say that they are experiencing anxiety. That said, during an anxiety attack, certain symptoms can overlap with the symptoms seen in those experiencing panic attacks. For example, someone experiencing anxiety may face symptoms like nausea, GI distress, trouble focusing, emotional distress, rapid heartbeat or heart palpitations, and so on. Panic attacks typically come on suddenly, and they involve severe symptoms that are heavily disruptive.
During a panic attack, someone will experience the symptoms of a panic attack listed above. You don't have to be experiencing all of the symptoms of a panic attack listed above to have a panic attack, but you will experience some of them. Panic attacks manifest differently for everyone. For example, some people sweat and feel hot during a panic attack, where other people get chills. Some people go silent when they have a panic attack, where other people cry. Some people experience depersonalization or derealization during a panic attack, where others do not. These are only some of the ways that panic attacks can differ from person to person, so if you think that you may have recurring panic attacks, it is important to talk to a medical provider such as a psychiatrist who is qualified to diagnose mental disorders and who understands panic attacks in depth.
Facts And Statistics On Panic Disorder
Here are some facts and statistics on panic disorder:
- There are a number of potential comorbid conditions that are common in those with panic disorder. Commonly seen comorbidities in those with the panic disorder include other anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder and agoraphobia, and major depressive disorder (MDD).
- There's no known direct cause of the panic disorder, but some risk factors may increase the likelihood of someone developing the disorder. These risk factors include trauma, family history, and more.
- Although the panic disorder can impact people of all genders, panic disorder prevalence appears to be higher in women than in men.
How Do You Know If You Have Panic Disorder?
To be diagnosed with panic disorder, you must experience recurring panic attacks. Additionally, you must experience a fear of future panic attacks for at least a month. Many people with panic disorder will attempt to avoid future attacks, often to the extent that it impacts their life and ability to function in social relationships, work, school, or other pursuits, whether mildly or severely. Someone might avoid situations or stimuli that may induce a panic attack, which might cause them to avoid something important to them or something they need to get done. The only way to know for sure that you have a panic disorder is to see a medical provider, such as a psychiatrist, who can provide you with an adequate evaluation for the disorder. This process isn't invasive or scary; it generally consists simply of a qualified provider asking you a series of questions and determining a diagnosis based on your answers. You can have more than one anxiety disorder, and in fact, as noted in the statistics above, it's actually quite common. For example, one might experience generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder or experience social anxiety disorder and panic attacks. If you think that you could have any of these conditions, it's important to reach out. Again, panic attacks and panic disorder can be debilitating, and the good news is that treatment can help and that you don't have to go through this alone.
Panic Disorder Treatment
Cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT is one of the most popular therapies used for those with panic disorder. For all information regarding specific treatments or therapies, please consult a medical or mental health professional. Some people choose to see a psychiatrist in addition to seeing a therapist or counselor for cognitive behavioral therapy or similar therapies. Where others do not. Your treatment will be specific and unique to you. If you are looking for panic disorder treatment in your area, there are a number of options. You can make an appointment with your general doctor and ask for a referral to a therapist or counselor, conduct an online search for "panic disorder therapist near me" or a similar search term, contact your insurance company or visit their website to see if they cover, or use an online mental health provider directory. If you are struggling to find a provider, you can use the provider search tool in the Mind Diagnostics website's upper right-hand corner. You may also consider utilizing online therapy services through an online therapy company like BetterHelp.
Peer Support For Panic Disorder
Peer support is not a replacement for treatment from a medical or mental health professional. Still, it can be advantageous to people with panic disorder and other disorders for a number of reasons. It's very cathartic to meet other people who understand what you're going through and are going through the same thing. Often, people find peer support through support groups that meet either online or in their local area. To find a support group near you, you can use an online support group locator, search for common "anxiety support groups near me" or "panic disorder support groups near me," or you can ask a mental health provider for a recommendation of a support group in your area. Another option for peer support is online forums. Two popular forums for panic disorder are the panic disorder and agoraphobia forum on mentalhealthforum.net and the panic disorder forum on psychforums.com.
You can find the panic disorder and agoraphobia forum on mentalhealthforum.net here: https://www.mentalhealthforum.net/forum/forums/panic-disorder-and-agoraphobia-forum.43/.
You can find the panic disorder forum on psychforums.com here: https://www.psychforums.com/panic-disorder/.
Take The Mind Diagnostics Panic Disorder Test
If you think that you might have panic disorder, or if you're looking for a panic disorder test online, consider taking the Mind Diagnostics panic disorder test. Although a panic attack quiz, panic disorder quiz, or panic attack test is not a replacement for an evaluation or diagnosis from a medical or mental health professional, taking the Mind Diagnostics panic disorder test can give you insight into your symptoms and might just be the first step to getting the help that you need. The Mind Diagnostics panic disorder test is free, fast, and confidential to take. Although the panic disorder can impact people below the age of 18, the Mind Diagnostics panic disorder test is for those aged 18 and older.
Click here to take the Mind Diagnostics panic disorder test.