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What Is a Panic Disorder?

A racing heartbeat, trembling, chest pain, and shortness of breath—while these symptoms may seem like signs of a heart attack, they are actually common physical reactions to fear or anxiety. Often, these physical symptoms are associated with panic disorder, a type of anxiety disorder. Panic disorder is characterized by unexpected and recurrent episodes of intense fear or discomfort, known as panic attacks.

If you’re struggling with panic disorder, there’s help available. Northeast Health Services offers anxiety treatment services in locations across Massachusetts. Through therapy and psychiatry services, we can help you learn to manage your panic disorder and improve your quality of life. Call 508.794.8711 today if you’re ready to get started.

Panic Disorder vs. Anxiety Disorder

Although panic disorder falls under the umbrella of anxiety disorders, it is a distinct condition with its own set of symptoms and treatment options. While generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by persistent and excessive worry across a variety of situations, panic disorder is marked by sudden and intense fear in response to specific triggers or events.

Some people may experience both panic disorder and GAD, but it’s important to understand the differences between the two in order to receive an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.

Signs of Panic Disorder

Panic disorder can manifest in both physical and emotional symptoms. The most common physical symptoms include:

  • Racing or pounding heart
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Shortness of breath or feeling smothered
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Nausea or stomach distress
  • Sensations of choking
  • Chills or hot flashes

In addition to these physical symptoms, those who have a panic disorder may also experience emotional symptoms such as:

  • Fear of losing control or going crazy
  • Fear of dying
  • Feeling detached from oneself
  • Numbness or tingling sensations

These symptoms can be incredibly distressing and often lead people to avoid certain situations or activities in order to prevent a panic attack. However, avoidance can actually worsen symptoms and make it more difficult to manage panic disorder in the long run.

Ways to Manage Panic Disorder

If you are struggling with panic disorder, here are some ways to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life:

  1. Seek professional help – Therapy and medication can be effective treatments for panic disorder. A mental health professional can work with you to develop coping strategies and identify triggers for your panic attacks.
  2. Practice relaxation techniques – Deep breathing, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation can help calm your body and mind during a panic attack.
  3. Exercise regularly – Regular physical activity can reduce symptoms of anxiety and improve overall mental health.
  4. Get enough rest – Lack of sleep can worsen anxiety symptoms, so it’s important to prioritize getting enough rest each night.
  5. Avoid caffeine and alcohol – Both substances can increase feelings of anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
  6. Identify triggers – Keep track of your panic attacks and try to identify any patterns or triggers. This can help you avoid those situations or develop coping mechanisms for when they do occur.

There’s a better path forward. Reach out to Northeast Health Services today to get started.

Contact the Northeast Health Services Team Today

If you or a loved one is struggling with panic disorder, know that help is available. Our locations across Massachusetts offer anxiety treatment services, including therapy and medication management, to help you manage your symptoms and find relief.

If you’re ready to take the next step in your mental health journey, click here to reach out to our team of empathetic mental health care experts. For existing clients, please click here and find your office location to contact your office directly.