The anxiety , fear and panic were and still are very important feeling for the survival of the human species. When faced with situations of extreme danger, a fire, for example, it is good that these feelings take over the individual so that he fears for his life and seeks to escape the threat.
But what about when these sensations become pathological? And when they start to happen suddenly and for no apparent reason, bringing inconvenience and embarrassment to the individual? What to do? How to get help? What doctor to look for?
Find the answer to these and more questions about Panic Syndrome in the following text!
- 1 What is panic syndrome?
- 2 Panic syndrome in pregnancy
- 3 Causes
- 4 Risk factors
- 5 Symptoms
- 5.1 Panic Crisis X Panic Syndrome
- 5.2 Physical symptoms
- 5.3 How hyperventilation causes other symptoms
- 5.4 Emotional symptoms
- 5.5 Panic cycles
- 6 How is the diagnosis made?
- 7 Does panic syndrome have a cure?
- 8 What is the treatment?
- 9 Medicines
- 10 Living together
- 11 How to help a person with panic syndrome
- 11.1 Never underestimate the problem
- 11.2 Do not apply any pressure
- 11.3 Avoid harsh or aggressive forms of incentives
- 11.4 Avoid telling tragic or other illness stories to the patient
- 11.5 Keep calm during crises
- 11.6 Avoid treating the patient like a poor thing
- 11.7 Never refer medications on your own
- 11.8 Be patient with the person and with you
- 12 Prognosis
- 13 Complications
- 14 How to prevent panic attacks?
- 15 Common questions
Panic syndrome is an anxiety disorder characterized by sudden panic attacks or attacks for no apparent reason. It is a feeling of fear so intense that it can lead to physical symptoms, such as tachycardia and shortness of breath .
Many patients, during attacks, confuse physical symptoms with a physical illness, such as a heart attack or stroke.
If left untreated, it can lead to serious complications such as the development of phobias , hypochondria and depression . It can be found in the ICD-10 through the code F41.0.
According to data from the Institute of Psychiatry, Hospital de Clínicas, USP Medical School (IPq – HCMFUSP), approximately 10% of the population may experience crises for no apparent reason. About 3.5% of these people suffer from repeated attacks, which can be categorized as panic syndrome.
A famous case that has gained a lot of public notoriety is that of Father Fábio de Melo. Diagnosed with the disease, he said, in an interview with Fantástico, that his crises were so intense that, at certain times, he had to hide under his bed because of the malaise caused by the disease.
Even so, although awareness is increasing, people who suffer from panic syndrome still have to live with another stone on the way: prejudice.
It is common for the patient with panic syndrome to feel inferior because the people around her say that it is fresh and that it is not such a serious problem, which is a lie. Panic syndrome is a real problem that can have serious consequences.
It is very common for anxiety to increase during pregnancy, especially because of hormonal changes caused by pregnancy and concern for the child to come. This can favor the onset of panic attacks, especially in women who have had previous attacks.
When left untreated, panic syndrome can have serious consequences for the pregnant woman and the development of pregnancy, such as:
- Increased risk of pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure);
- Premature delivery;
- Greater chances of having a cesarean section;
- Low weight of the baby at birth;
- Decreased fetal movements.
For the safety of the child, treatment in these cases is mainly focused on psychotherapy, as many of the drugs can affect the child’s development. Still, there are cases where the use of medication is unavoidable. In such cases, the administration of medications should be done in low doses and under express medical advice.
In addition, it is extremely important that the mother follows the treatment after the baby is born, because during this phase, the chances of panic attacks increase.
The actual causes of crises and panic syndrome are still unknown to science. What the researchers speculate is that it is a hereditary disease. There is also the finding that it affects many more women than men and that it usually appears in late adolescence and early adulthood.
In addition, it is quite common for people to experience only 1 episode of panic in a lifetime. When the crisis happens only once, this does not characterize panic syndrome, but the fact that episodes can happen to anyone makes it even more difficult for researchers to try to understand the causes of the disease.
However, there are several attempts to explain the reasons behind the disorder. These hypotheses take into account biological, cognitive, genetic and psychological perspectives.
This does not mean that one strand excludes the other. What is most likely, in the view of professionals in the field, is that the disease is caused by multiple factors or a combination of them. Understand:
Possible biological causes
Some research has concluded, for example, that there is an irregular activity of norepinephrine (a type of mood regulator) in people who have panic attacks.
In addition, recent research has also found that the brains of people who suffer from panic syndrome work irregularly. Parts of the brain such as the amygdala , the ventromedial nucleus and the cerulean appear to not function properly in these people.
Tonsils are parts of the brain responsible for telling the body that you are in a dangerous situation and that it is time to be afraid. They are structures so important that they appear in all species of mammals, birds and reptiles.
This function is enhanced according to the brain capacity of each species. That is, animals with greater brain capacity, such as humans, have an easier time predicting risk situations, and this makes the functions of the amygdala even more potent in us.
The other animals, for example, only activate fear when another predator appears. The human being, on the other hand, has a very great anticipatory power, which makes him capable of fearing death even without any close enemy.
Contrary to what it seems, this is not a bad thing. In fact, it was extremely important for the survival of the first individuals of the species and was essential for human development.
In the past, when predators were always on the prowl, having the ability to be fearful in a hasty manner was a big differentiator. Those who were already prepared to run were the ones who managed to escape from predators, live longer and, consequently, have more children.
However, although very important, all this anticipatory capacity can be bad. When the tonsils are unregulated and do not work properly, they can induce panic attacks for no apparent reason.
When this happens for no apparent reason and on a recurring basis, we have panic syndrome.
Possible cognitive causes
Theorists believe that people with panic syndrome suffer from seizures because they confuse their physical sensations with risky situations. Understand more about these physical sensations of the disease in the topic “Symptoms”.
The problem is that physical symptoms make people feel out of control of the situation, which leads to panic episodes.
This confusion was named by experts as sensitive anxiety and research suggests that patients who have higher rates of sensitive anxiety are up to 5 times more likely to be diagnosed with panic disorder.
Possible psychological causes
There is also the possibility that panic syndrome is caused by psychological factors, such as very stressful events, sudden transitions in life and exposure to hostile environments.
Often, the first crises are caused by high levels of stress and the use of certain medications. In addition, people with an overload of responsibilities also develop a greater tendency to suffer from panic attacks, as well as people who suffer from post-traumatic stress.
As the exact causes of panic syndrome are not known, it is also difficult to say which are the main risk factors. Still, it is possible to brush some of them. Check out:
Adolescence and early adulthood are the most propitious moments for the onset of panic attacks. Although panic syndrome usually develops between 18 and 35 years of age, it is possible for it to occur at any time in life.
It has already been found that there is a strong correlation between genetics and panic syndrome. Children of parents with the disease are much more likely to have attacks and be diagnosed with the syndrome.
Women are more likely to develop anxiety and depressive disorders. Panic syndrome, in particular, is even more prevalent among women. It is estimated that they are up to 2 times more likely to have the disease.
The reason for this is not yet known, but there is a chance that cultural factors are involved in these numbers. Women feel much more insecure in society than men because of the culture in which we live and, therefore, go through more situations in which anxiety levels rise.
A very common report among women is the fear of walking on the street alone at night, for example. These situations increase the levels of stress and anxiety, facilitating the emergence of disorders related to panic.
Research shows that there is some correlation between children with more “frightened”, anxious and nervous personalities and the later development of panic syndrome.
There are some family traits that are related to panic syndrome. Parents who are very demanding, perfectionist and who demand strict behavior and discipline from their children increase the child’s risk of developing panic syndrome in the future.
However, this correlation is not necessarily true, as there are a large number of children who have gone through similar situations and have not developed the syndrome, as there are patients who were raised in completely different environments, often welcoming and came to develop it.
The relationship between panic syndrome and post-traumatic stress has already been found. Very sudden transitions in a person’s life, such as the death of a close loved one, the loss of a job or a divorce can trigger triggers for the development of panic attacks.
In addition, research has shown that experiencing traumatic situations, such as suffering from physical or sexual abuse, has a strong correlation with the development of panic syndrome.
High levels of stress
There is a correlation between stress and panic disorder. People who are subjected to a lot of pressure and who have excessive responsibilities are more likely to have a crisis.
Substance abuse is often related to panic attacks. A study published in the scientific journal Addictive Behavior showed that 39% of people who suffer from panic syndrome have already abused substances.
Of these 39%, 63% abused alcohol, and 59% reported having made excessive use of illicit drugs. In these cases, substance use predates the onset of panic attacks.
Understand the relationship between substances and panic attacks:
Smoking tobacco increases the risk of developing panic syndrome and agoraphobia (fear of open spaces or with many people). Especially when you start in adolescence or early adulthood, the chances of developing any of these diseases are increased.
The relationship between smoking and the syndrome is not yet fully understood, but some hypotheses have already been raised. The main one concerns breathing capacity. Changes in this function can lead to panic attacks due to respiratory symptoms.
This hypothesis arose as a result of respiratory abnormalities found in children with high levels of anxiety, which led researchers to believe that people with problems in this area are more susceptible to panic attacks.
In addition, nicotine is a stimulant and both its use and abstinence can increase anxiety levels, favoring the onset of the syndrome.
A significant number of studies have shown a strong correlation between caffeine intake and panic disorder or other anxiety disorders.
Panic disorder patients, for example, are more sensitive to the neuro-stimulating and “anxiety-provoking” effects of caffeine. One of the most well-known effects of caffeine in these people is the increase in heart rate.
In addition, some remedies for flu and cold containing decongestants may contain substances such as pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, phenylephrine, naphazoline and oxymetazoline. These substances can also increase your heart rate, making the risks of a panic attack higher.
Alcohol and sedatives
Approximately 30% of people with panic syndrome use alcohol and 17% use other psychoactive substances . The use of alcohol and other recreational drugs usually worsens the symptoms.
Conditions such as depression and chronic anxiety are related to panic syndrome. Other problems that are related to the disorder are:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD);
- Specific phobias;
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD);
- Post-traumatic stress disorder;
- Social phobia.
The symptoms of a panic attack are usually mixed and involve a series of emotional and physical symptoms that, when taken together, give the patient the feeling that he is dying or that something very bad is about to happen.
For patients, especially during an episode, it can sometimes be very difficult to see that it is a panic attack. However, for third parties, the task may be a little easier, since they are not so emotionally weak.
However, before we get into the symptoms themselves, we need to establish the differences between panic attacks and panic syndrome.
Panic Crisis X Panic Syndrome
There are differences between panic attacks for panic syndrome. Many people experience panic attacks without further recurring episodes or complications. In such cases, the problem cannot be diagnosed as Panic Syndrome.
The syndrome only occurs when the episodes are recurrent, combined with intense changes in behavior, such as persistent anxiety and stress or the difficulty of leaving home for fear of new crises.
In these cases, recurrent crises represent a great emotional burden on the patient’s life. The memory of the intense fear and terror experienced during the episodes can negatively affect the patient’s self-confidence and cause serious disturbances in daily life. In this case, the rule is simple: a single crisis of a few minutes can leave scars that are long-lasting and difficult to treat.
Eventually, this can cause the patient to experience:
- Anticipatory anxiety: the patient feels tense even in situations where he should be calm. This anxiety usually occurs due to the fear of new crises. It is famous for “fear of being afraid”, and it can be extremely disabling;
- Phobic avoidance: the patient can begin to avoid different situations or environments, based on the belief that the situation he is avoiding is the cause of the previous panic crisis. Another justification is the fear of places where escape would be difficult or where help would not be available.
We can say that the symptoms of a panic attack occur because the body is, in a way, preparing to escape a dangerous situation, a real threat, such as a fire. They occur mainly because there is an adrenaline rush that causes a series of physical changes in the body.
As these changes are unexpected and usually do not make sense to be occurring at that very moment, the person creates justifications that are often unrealistic to try to deal with the unexpected adrenaline rush.
Check out the main symptoms:
- Increased heart rate;
- Increased respiratory rate (hyperventilation);
- Dryness of the mouth;
- Feeling of shortness of breath;
- Chest pain or discomfort;
- Excessive sweating;
- Mild or weak dizziness;
- Paresthesia (tingling or numbness).
How hyperventilation causes other symptoms
Hyperventilation is an increase in respiratory rate. It is one of the main symptoms present in a panic attack and can trigger a series of consequences in various parts of the body.
This is because, during hyperventilation, the human body expels an excessive amount of carbon dioxide, unbalancing the acid-base control of the blood. When the decrease in carbon dioxide in the body occurs, it results in an increase in blood pH.
The increase in pH, in turn, translates clinically into the reduction of free calcium in the circulatory system, causing symptoms throughout the body. Understand:
Central nervous system:
The lack of free oxygen to the brain causes an arterial vasoconstriction system to activate, which can bring symptoms such as:
- Vision darkening;
- Feeling faint.
Peripheral nervous system
These problems directly affect the transmission of stimuli by sensitive nerves. This makes the patient feel paresthesia (tingling) in several regions. Paresthesias are quite characteristic: they start from the periphery to the center of the body.
That is, the individual may begin to complain of tingling that begins at the fingertips and extends to the arms.
The hypokalemia (low calcium levels circulating in the blood) increasing muscle excitability. This can have the consequence of:
- Tremors in the extremities: the patient’s hands are shaking;
- Muscle spasms: small muscle groups contract, such as the eyelids, neck, chest and arms;
- Tetany: rarer, tetany is persistent muscle contraction. In such cases, it is common for the patient to complain of difficulty opening their eyes, high chest pain and tightness in the throat.
High levels of stress cause the body’s hormones to become unbalanced, increasing the frequency of the heartbeat and causing symptoms such as nausea. In addition, this extreme stress can compress the organs, affecting breathing and causing a number of other symptoms.
Due to the surprise caused by the appearance of physical symptoms, the patient may experience a series of emotional symptoms that, if left untreated, can lead to recurrent seizures.
Emotional symptoms, therefore, occur during the crisis and also in the later moments, when the physical signs are no longer present.
During seizures, the patient may experience:
- Blocked feeling;
- Feeling excluded or separated from their surroundings;
- Fear of losing control and “going crazy”;
- Feeling like you’re going to die.
These sensations are unreal and do not represent anything concrete. They happen because the mind is looking for logical justifications for all the physical sensations it is experiencing. However, despite being frightening, the patient will not die because of physical symptoms. After a while, they will pass and there are techniques to make them disappear more easily.
Still, many patients may experience a range of other symptoms after a seizure. The person may start to feel depressed due to the crises, since the symptoms can have a great impact on their self-esteem .
The patient begins to feel that he is no longer useful, that he is useless, that he only interferes with other people’s lives, or that he is inferior to others. These thoughts are not representative of a concrete reality, as anyone can suddenly experience a panic attack and find themselves in this weakened position.
Therefore, it is important to emphasize that, if these emotional symptoms are not treated, it may happen that the patient ends up entering the cycles of panic, which can cause the crises to become chronic.
When this happens, that is, when multiple crises occur on a recurring basis, we can say that the patient is suffering from panic disorder or syndrome.
People who suffer from panic syndrome often end up trapped in a vicious and quite uncomfortable cycle. This phenomenon is called the Panic Cycle and can chronically affect the patient’s life.
Understand more about how it works through the image above and the explanation of each step below:
Anticipatory anxiety happens when the patient feels very insecure about an upcoming situation or with an association similar to a trauma from the past. The person is anxious, afraid that he will have a panic attack again. It is the famous “fear of being afraid”.
In cases of past trauma, for example, the person may have gone through a bad situation such as being attacked by a dog. Behold, at some point in her life, she comes across another dog similar to the one that attacked her in the past. This encounter generates anxiety in the person, who relates the scene to the trauma experienced.
In cases of fear of the future, we can mention the fear of performing in public as an example. The patient projects insecurities and fears for the future, generating anxiety. He thinks he will be ashamed, make a mistake and the audience will laugh at him. This situation can be quite stressful and end up leading the patient to a panic attack.
It is the panic crisis itself. During it, the characteristic symptoms appear. That is, sweaty hands, shaking, feeling of tightness, hyperventilation and others.
At that moment, the body activates escape reactions and the feelings of discomfort and death can go to extremes. This is because the body is preparing to escape. Remember that they are mental and will not kill the patient.
Escape and relief
It is when the situation that was causing discomfort is overcome through escape. In the case of public presentation, for example, the patient fails to fulfill the commitment.
Symptoms do not necessarily disappear when the person gets rid of the “problem”. It usually takes a while for adrenaline levels to decrease. Diaphragmatic breathing helps a lot when it comes to speeding up the process of reducing symptoms.
Installation of limiting beliefs (self-criticism and self-confidence)
At that moment, the patient begins to blame himself for having run away from the situation that triggered the panic syndrome. Thoughts such as “I am no good”, “I only give work to my relatives”, “Nobody understands me” or “If I feel sick, people will laugh at me” install themselves in the patient’s mind.
This can be very debilitating and frustrating, because the person feels that he no longer has the freedom to do things or else he feels inferior. This is very bad for self-esteem and increases anxiety levels.
These high levels of anxiety can manifest as anticipatory anxiety and then all the cycle can happen again.
As we saw in the topic “Symptoms”, many people experience crises or panic attacks at some point in their lives and do not experience the symptoms again. This does not characterize a diagnosis of panic syndrome.
On the contrary, for a person to be diagnosed with panic syndrome, in the first place, the frequency of panic attacks must be considered. That is, if they often happen with the same symptoms in a certain period of time, it is likely that the patient has panic disorder.
Panic syndrome cannot be diagnosed through clinical examinations, but it is a real and serious problem, requiring urgent treatment for the patient to return to a quality life and to return to his daily activities.
The most qualified professionals to diagnose panic disorder are psychiatrists and psychologists .
Yes , panic syndrome can be cured, as long as the patient seeks the correct professional . The treatment has a very variable duration and is not the same for everyone, but psychiatric and psychological assistance is essential for the patient to overcome the problem.
Like most psychiatric disorders, panic syndrome treatment is done on two fronts: medication and therapy. Understand more about them:
When panic syndrome is diagnosed, the psychiatrist can prescribe a series of medications, such as anxiolytics and antidepressants to cure the condition. This type of treatment can take time to have an effect, as the drugs do not work the same way for all people. It can often take up to 6 months for the patient to start noticing results.
In addition, antidepressants and anxiolytics can bring a series of unwanted side effects for patients and, as the treatment can take time to work, many patients give up taking the drugs and return to the initial condition.
Clinically, the combination of drug treatment and psychotherapy has good results. Psychotherapy, in fact, can even improve the effectiveness of medications, in addition to reducing relapses in patients who do not follow medication treatment correctly.
Among the strands of psychotherapy, the one that has shown the most results for the treatment of panic syndrome is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Cognitive behavioral therapy
CBT is based on the premise that everything the individual thinks affects the way he feels, which, successively, affects his actions. From this, the method encourages the patient to recognize the irrationality of their fear and negative thoughts about the social situations that cause anxiety in their daily lives.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy to treat panic disorder is focused on 4 main points:
- Self-management techniques: aim to teach the patient to recognize when they are about to have a crisis or attack and offer techniques, such as diaphragmatic breathing, to avoid them;
- Exercises with cognitive distortions: the psychotherapist tries to guide the patient to see the distorted thoughts that lead to panic attacks, seeking to build, over time, a clearer, more objective and positive view of the social situations that can trigger an episode;
- Gradual exposure techniques: the patient will be exposed to situations that trigger his anxiety in a controlled manner, through real or simulated events with the help of role and playing (interpretation);
- Treatment of trauma associated with the condition: patient and therapist will analyze the situations that trigger panic attacks to understand what happens to the patient and come up with solutions.
The drugs that are usually indicated for the treatment of panic syndrome are anxiolytics and mild antidepressants. Check out:
- Alenthus XR;
- Apraz ;
- Clomipramine ;
- Citalopram ;
- Efexor XR;
- Escitalopram ;
- Paroxetine ;
- Sertraline .
NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained in this website is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.
Living with panic syndrome is a difficult task for the patient. Check out some tips to deal with the disease now:
What to do during a panic attack?
Going through a panic attack is desperate. However, there are some steps that the patient can take to make the symptoms go faster. Understand:
- As soon as you start to have symptoms, find a cool place where you feel safe;
- You should never run . This only fuels the desperation caused by the crisis;
- Stay in a comfortable position, sitting or squatting;
- Practice diaphragmatic breathing techniques. Inhale deeply and release slowly through your mouth for a few minutes;
- Pay attention to your surroundings and use your senses. Observe what happens around you and look for something to focus your attention on, such as a smell, a texture or a sound;
- Use the medications prescribed by the doctor.
One of the ways to decrease the symptoms that manifest during a panic attack is through diaphragmatic breathing. It will not necessarily stop the crisis, but it can help relieve symptoms without the need for medication.
It works like this: when you identify that you are having a panic attack, place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. Breathe in order to raise only the hand that is on the abdomen. This can help reduce shortness of breath and tachycardia.
It is necessary for those who live with patients with panic syndrome enough patience, sensitivity and empathy. Putting yourself in the other’s place, first of all, is essential. Still, there are some actions you can take. Understand:
Never underestimate the problem
No. The panic syndrome is not freshness , nonsense or madness. Never tell a person who is in crisis that he has nothing too much or that he is his weakness. Panic syndrome is a real disease and one that brings serious problems.
The patient with panic syndrome suffers enough with the symptoms of the disease itself. Downplaying what she is feeling will only make her feel weaker. It is a cruel and completely unnecessary attitude. (So just stop)
Do not apply any pressure
Take it easy. If a person with panic syndrome says he can’t do something, it’s probably because he can’t.
Therefore, there is no point in insisting that she leave or be discouraged. Believe me: this is the greatest desire of someone who suffers from panic syndrome. It turns out that sometimes even the smallest actions seem impossible. Therefore, the key word is: patience.
Avoid harsh or aggressive forms of incentives
It may seem like a good idea to be more forceful when encouraging a person with panic syndrome. Giving her a little push or a shake to get her to react positively may also seem like a good idea.
Well, it just seems. This type of “incentive” can be misinterpreted, it can sound like an aggression and make the situation worse, as the person may feel diminished by the attitude.
Therefore, shouting or saying certain things in a very enthusiastic tone to provoke a reaction can be more disturbing than helping.
Avoid telling tragic or other illness stories to the patient
As we saw in the previous topics, many patients with panic syndrome can develop phobias, such as agoraphobia, and even become hypochondriac. Therefore, this type of conversation can activate emotional triggers.
Furthermore, during the crisis period, the person who suffers from panic syndrome is much more susceptible to incorporating symptoms into their crises, is afraid of having the same illness that he heard about or of having a car accident as in the tragic story that you just heard.
Keep calm during crises
It is difficult, but try to remain calm when the person is in crisis. Think that if it’s difficult for you, it’s impossible for her!
If you don’t get upset, remain calm and show that you are there to help her in whatever situation, it will probably be easier to calm her down and she is unlikely to have another crisis near you.
If you are involved in the patient’s despair, you will hardly be able to help him. Often, crises take a while to pass, but they always do.
Avoid treating the patient like a poor thing
Treating others with pity makes them feel inferior. Take care of the person with confidence in his recovery and not as if he were a helpless child.
Never refer medications on your own
The self-medication is very dangerous and, for panic disorder cases is expressly necessary to consult a psychiatrist before taking any medicine.
Be patient with the person and with you
It is not easy to understand what is going through the other person’s mind at these times and this often makes actions difficult. Therefore, you may feel powerless or unable to understand or help. Know that this is very common. You shouldn’t feel useless because you can’t solve a problem like this.
The best help you can offer is to be present, next to the person for whatever comes and goes. If necessary, look for help groups. They can also help patients’ families and give more information about the disease.
The prognosis of patients with panic syndrome tends to be quite positive, despite the difficulty in treating the disease. The use of the correct medication and psychological support greatly help the patient to return to his daily activities and lead a quality life.
Panic syndrome can bring a series of complications to the life of the patient suffering from the disease. Meet some of them:
Basal anxiety is a set of symptoms characterized by tension, muscle pain, difficulty in relaxing (the person always feels alert, lurking, waiting for a new crisis), intolerance to noise, impatience, irritability, verbal aggression, insomnia and fatigue at the end of the day.
The patient can begin to associate his panic attacks to the places where he had them, creating a conditioning and feeling anxious, and may even have new crises when confronted with the same situation a second time.
Many patients can develop phobic avoidance, which is characterized by trying to avoid as much as possible a situation that can generate a crisis.
The problem is that the more you try to avoid the situation, the more fear the patient will acquire, causing him to end up falling into a cycle of panic, as we saw in the topic “Symptoms”.
According to studies carried out by the National Institute of Mental Health , in the United States, approximately ⅓ of people with panic disorder become agoraphobic, presenting all the characteristic symptoms of this pathology.
Agoraphobia can be defined as extreme anxiety in situations that the person thinks are unsafe or difficult to get out of. With that, the person becomes “afraid” of going to open spaces, shopping centers, traffic and even simple situations in which the person is outside his own residence.
It is strongly linked to panic attacks. Although there are cases of agoraphobia with no previous history of panic or anxiety, the most common is that the two go hand in hand.
The problem tends to arise when the person who has suffered repeated bouts of anxiety begins to acquire a terrible fear that they will manifest themselves again in other situations in which it will be more difficult or impossible to ask for help.
It is possible, for example, that the person with agoraphobia will have panic attacks when going for a walk in the mall, park or shopping in the supermarket.
All of these limitations can give rise to depressive feelings, because the patient stops receiving positive reinforcements from his environment and may end up falling into a vicious circle of mood, becoming increasingly incapacitated, with low self-esteem and increasing levels of anxiety. .
Development of other phobias
In addition to agoraphobia, patients with panic syndrome are more likely to develop other types of fear, such as fear of driving, flying and using the elevator.
These fears can be directly or indirectly related to previous crises and, as the symptoms choose neither date, place, nor time to happen, the tendency is for the phobias to increase progressively.
Hypochondria is an excessive concern for physical health. It is a mental disorder characterized by constant fear of being ill or of developing a serious illness.
Since panic syndrome causes very intense physical symptoms, it is quite common for patients to start to think they are having a heart attack or stroke.
In such cases, the person believes that there is something very wrong with their physical health. Something so wrong that not even doctors and exams are able to detect it or are omitting it for some reason.
Self-deprecation and demoralization
Crises and the fear of new crises can be very limiting and impose several barriers in the life of the individual who suffers from panic syndrome. Because this state often prevents the patient from leaving the home, feelings of self-deprecation and demoralization are not uncommon.
There is, in panic syndrome, a very sharp drop in the quality of life of the patient and the family.
The patient may feel responsible for the disease and feel helpless, weak or less because of a false idea that he “lacks willpower” to overcome the problem.
As the panic syndrome evolves and especially if it is left untreated, the patient may begin to find himself increasingly isolated from the outside world. Often, the patient may lose the desire to get out of bed.
These are typical symptoms of depression and it is quite common for them to appear before, after or in conjunction with panic attacks.
Depressive symptoms usually arise in a reactive manner to the anxious phobic limitations imposed on the individual’s life by the disorder.
Since it is not yet known exactly what causes a panic attack, telling what to do to prevent them from happening is a somewhat difficult task. However, there are some tips that can be extremely valuable for anyone who suffers from the problem. Are they:
- Practice activities that encourage relaxation, such as yoga and pilates;
- Avoid places with many people, such as concerts, plays and public transport;
- Avoid consumption of beverages that stimulate the nervous system, such as caffeine, black, green or mate tea and alcoholic or energy drinks;
- Whenever possible, go out with someone you feel safe and comfortable with;
- Avoid environments that can trigger new crises.
It is worth remembering that simply avoiding the problem is not the same as dealing with the problem. Trying to prevent crises from happening is interesting for anyone suffering from panic syndrome, but it is a palliative measure.
Look for a specialist doctor to assess your condition and so that, together, you can work on a solution.
How to identify a panic attack?
There are some symptoms that are characteristic of a panic attack. So we have made a list of the 5 most common symptoms so that you can get to know them and prevent yourself if an attack occurs in the future. Check out:
- Sudden changes in temperature: the patient may suddenly begin to feel very hot or very cold;
- Chest pain: due to the increase in heart rate, it is possible that the patient feels chest pain, often making him believe that he is having a heart attack;
- Nausea and dizziness: it is quite common that, during attacks, the person feels dizzy and has a stomach upset, making the situation even worse;
- Intense feelings : feelings of fear and anxiety can go to extremes during a panic attack;
- Shortness of breath: the sum of these and all other symptoms can make the patient feel that he is not breathing properly, making him feel short of breath.
Even knowing the main symptoms of a panic attack, it can still be very difficult to identify, especially at the time it is occurring, as the patient can often confuse these symptoms with those of other diseases, such as a heart attack, for example. example.
However, it is very important to try to remain calm. One of the ways to do it is by using the breathing techniques that we saw in the topic “How to prevent panic syndrome?”.
Still, if you happen to think that your symptoms are more severe than those of a panic attack, don’t be ashamed to ask for help. If you find it necessary, go to the hospital. Local doctors and professionals will do their best to relieve what ails you, whether it’s a panic attack or some other illness.
Does marijuana affect panic disorder patients?
First of all, as obvious as it may seem, it must be emphasized that marijuana is a drug and that its use, like any other, poses health risks. In the case of patients with panic disorder, the risks can be increased.
This is because one of the mechanisms of action of marijuana is the serotonergic stimulus in the brain. Therefore, marijuana is a hallucinogenic drug that, like LSD, is linked to panic attacks.
We have all heard about the bad trip or “bad trip”. It is characterized by an intense malaise, similar to the panic crisis.
Although there are reports about the relaxing power of marijuana, it is a fact that it can trigger anxiety and panic attacks, especially in predisposed patients. Therefore, people who suffer from panic syndrome should not use marijuana and other drugs.
Panic syndrome is a serious problem. Even so, its carriers have to deal with prejudice on a daily basis. Share this text to make people aware of the real seriousness of the problem!