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Panic Disorder is experienced as a sudden attack of terror or fear. People who experience panic disorder are afraid of their physical symptoms and sometimes think they’re in the midst of a heart attack. They may think they are going to die or fear they are losing their minds. They live in constant dread of the next panic attack and have no idea when or where it will happen and so they worry frequently and live with a sense of impending doom.

Symptoms of panic attacks include:

  • A pounding heart
  • Person begins to sweat
  • A sudden feeling of being flushed
  • Feeling physically weak
  • Feeling faint and even dizzy
  • A tingling in the hands
  • Feel cold and chilly
  • A sensation of going numb
  • Pain in the chest or nausea
  • The sensation of being smothered, unable to breathe
  • Shortness of breath
  • Frightening sense of doom
  • Fear of losing control
  • A sense of being in a state of unreality.

Those with Panic Attacks can have them any time of day or night, even in their sleep. Most panic attacks peak within ten minutes, but they can last longer. One never knows, and this uncertainty is the source of worry and anxiety. People with panic disorder may also frequently visit the Emergency Room because they think they are having a heart attack or are dying.

There are about 6 million adults in the U.S. with Panic Disorder and twice as many women as men are diagnosed with Panic Disorder. Panic attacks usually present themselves in the late teens or early twenties. Many people experience one attack and it never happens again, so not everyone who has a panic attack develops Panic Disorder.

This can be a very disabling condition for people who have severe, repeated panic attacks. When these individuals find themselves in the same location or situation where a previous panic attack has occurred they may panic and begin avoiding those places and situations. If someone had an attack driving a car, they may begin avoiding driving, which could severely impair their life. They need to seek treatment before these fears interfere with activities of daily living. It’s critical to get help, as this kind of fear can generalize to similar places (lobbies with elevators) or situations and affect more and more aspects of their life.

Those with Panic Disorder can restrict themselves so much that normal everyday activities are avoided. For example, they may order groceries instead of going to the store. They ask others for rides as they’re afraid to drive. A third of all sufferers are housebound and can only go out and face their fears if they are with their spouse or someone else they trust. At this point they have become agoraphobic with a pervasive fear of open spaces.

Very often people with Panic Disorder consult many doctors, sometimes over the span of years, without a correct diagnosis. Because Panic Disorder goes undiagnosed and untreated many times for years, sufferers tend to become depressed and then may self-medicate with drugs and/or alcohol. These are conditions that should also be treated, but separately.

Symptoms of Major Depression include:

  • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness and despair
  • Changes in eating habits, either too much or way too little
  • Inability to go to sleep or sleeping way too much
  • Lack of energy
  • Trouble concentrating or focusing

Most people suffering from major depression can be treated effectively with antidepressant medication and or/psychotherapy, preferably both.

Panic disorder  and major depression can both be treated successfully. With the right medication and a psychotherapist who practices Cognitive Behavioral Therapy people can overcome these disorders. With this type of psychotherapy they will learn to monitor and change their patterns of thinking which have been contributing to their anxiety and sense of impending doom.

Because our treatment center relies on evidence based practices, our Intensive Outpatient Program shares many common methods with other successful treatment methods.  The foundation of our treatment program for relies on the principles of the stages of change, cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused treatment, skills training and identifying repetitive dysfunctional behavioral relationship patterns to promote recovery from depression and anxiety.  In fact, our Intensive Outpatient Program in Memphis, TN that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of these disorders in six peer reviewed treatment outcome studies.   Our treatment center provides services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an intensive outpatient setting.  Panic disorder and depression can be incapacitating. If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression or anxiety, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a treatment plan that can result in recovery.  Treatment for depression and panic attacks can be highly successful.  Call us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.