The frequency and intensity of panic attacks can pervade the life of the person having them. This makes it difficult for her to function and act normally at work, in society or in other areas of daily life. She is constantly afraid of experiencing another episode of panic.
Agoraphobia sometimes accompanies panic disorder. The person with agoraphobia fears public places, often because they are afraid that they will not be able to get out easily or that they will have a fit. For example, a person who has agoraphobia may not be able to go grocery shopping or go to a concert.
When agoraphobia occurs, its symptoms usually appear within a year of the onset of panic attacks.
Do not wait until you are no longer able to do your usual activities to consult. If you have symptoms, you can consult certain organizations and associations working in the field of anxiety disorders. These offer information, help and support.
However, see your family doctor or other healthcare professional if you experience any of the following:
Your panic attacks are causing you distress;
You have difficulty with your daily activities and with your social, professional or family responsibilities;
You isolate yourself or limit your daily activities because you are afraid of having panic attacks.
A healthcare professional will be able to assess whether you have panic disorder, with or without agoraphobia, or another condition that has similar symptoms. To properly assess you, your doctor may need to check up on your physical condition or order lab tests. He will suggest a treatment plan tailored to your needs.
See the Help and Resources section for the resources available to you.
Panic disorder is a treatable illness. There are recognized treatments to treat this disorder. Treatments allow people with this disorder to regain control over their lives and daily activities. The earlier a person sees, the better their chances of recovery.
In the majority of cases, panic disorder is treated effectively with self-care, group psychological education, physical activity, intervention, psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of some of these treatments.
Treating panic disorder also decreases agoraphobia. It often goes away on its own as the panic attacks subside. In rare cases, a person being treated who no longer has panic attacks may continue to have agoraphobia.
If you have symptoms of panic disorder, you can take action today. Tips for maintaining good mental health will help you change some lifestyle habits. These changes will help you eliminate factors that are making or sustaining your condition.
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How to act during a panic attack
If a seizure does occur, the best thing to do is to stay put and breathe slowly until the seizure stops.
Avoiding public places does not prevent panic attacks. On the contrary, it can intensify your seizures and cause you to isolate yourself. Remember that even the most bothersome and intense panic attacks last only a few minutes and never kill anyone.