Panic disorder is the reoccurrence of unexpected panic attacks. Panic disorder can cause a change in a person's mental state of mind. Although similar, it should not be confused with other anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, as anxiety attacks are caused by some sort of stress or reasoning while panic attacks are unexpected and sudden. When a panic attack occurs, it can be described as a “sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause.” They can be very frightening and seem as if one is losing control of themself. The person experiencing them can feel a change in their mental state of mind, making it difficult to get through the rest of the day.
A few symptoms of a panic attack include a racing heartbeat, having shortness of breath, dizziness, chills, shaking, chest pain, a tingling feeling in your body, or feeling completely numb. For some, panic attacks may feel as if they are having a heart attack or even the entire world ending. While they are different for each person experiencing them, panic attacks tend to last about twenty to thirty minutes each.
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Ways to cope with Panic Disorder or Attacks
The first thing to do is recognize you’re having a panic attack. The world is not ending. You’re not having a heart attack. It’s a panic attack. You’ve had them before and survived and you’ll do it again this time too. Just give yourself the time you need. For some that includes deep breathing, talking to a friend, or counting your fingers. The photos down below are techniques that help you ground yourself while being anxious or in a state of panic. Make sure to change it around for whatever feels best for you. Remember, to let yourself feel what you’re feeling and be patient with yourself.
Panic Attack Hotline:
Information on Therapy:
Post Panic Attack guide:
Panic Disorder is extremely stigmatized in today’s society. This stigma can affect your relationships, career, and the way you feel about yourself. The general public (especially people from marginalized communities) isn’t too educated on the topic of Panic Disorder or mental health in general. The world's lack of understanding towards Panic Disorder has caused many misconceptions. Many people think that panic attacks are just being overly stressed or being anxious about one certain thing. While most people experience some sort of anxiety in their life, we all still have different amounts of it. It’s important to remember panic disorder is more reoccurring and has more symptoms than your general anxiety from a stressful day or event.
Visit WellnessCenter.uic.edu to learn more or watch this video
For those of you experiencing something similar to this or think you might have panic disorder or any other type of mental illness, it’s important to talk to a trained mental health professional. Panic disorder can be caused by major life stressors, traumatic events, or it could even just simply run in your family's history. Trained professionals such as clinical psychologists and psychiatrists know how to help you cope and manage the stress in your life. With the right coping skills you’ll be able to manage your symptoms and continue doing the things you love!