Panic Disorder

Panic Disorder Criteria: What Are the Signs and Symptoms?

Do you ever experience the feeling of extreme and inexplicable anxiety? When this happens, you might think something bad is about to occur. You might experience racing or irregular heartbeats, lightheadedness, or chest pains.

If this sounds like you, you may consider getting a panic disorder diagnosis. Read on to learn the panic disorder criteria and how to get help.

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What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Panic Disorder Criteria?

Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by recurring and unexpected panic attacks. The signs and symptoms of panic disorder include:

Panic Attacks

Panic disorder is defined by manic episodes, which can be scary and upsetting. During a panic attack, a person has a quick, strong feeling of fear or discomfort that seems to come out of nowhere and often has no clear cause. Some of the symptoms can be very scary, like a fast heartbeat or palpitations, feeling lightheaded or dizzy, shivering or shaking, sweating a lot, and feeling like you can’t breathe or are suffocating.

Many people say they feel bad things are about to happen or strongly fear losing control or going crazy. Some people may also feel pain or discomfort in their chest, which could be mistaken for a heart attack. People may worry that they are having a life-threatening medical disaster because these symptoms can be so bad.

Fear of Future Attacks

People with panic disorder often have a strong fear of having another panic attack after having one. They can’t stop thinking about when the next attack might come and how they will handle it. This fear can be so upsetting that people may start to avoid places, activities, or situations that remind them of when their panic attacks started.

For example, someone who had a panic attack in a crowded shopping mall might stop going to stores altogether. Someone who had an attack while driving might become afraid of driving or refuse to drive.

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Avoidance Behavior

People with panic disorder often use avoidance to deal with their feelings. They may start to avoid situations or places they think could bring on an attack. This behavior can make a big difference in a person’s quality of life by limiting their interests and interactions with other people.

In extreme cases, this avoidance can turn into agoraphobia, in which the person avoids places or situations where they fear they won’t be able to get away or get help if they have a panic attack. Agoraphobia can be crippling and isolating, making anxiety and sadness worse.

Persistent Concerns

In addition to being afraid of having panic attacks, people with panic disorder may also worry about what their symptoms mean or will lead to. For example, they might worry that their panic attacks are signs of a dangerous illness like heart disease or a neurological disorder. These worries that aren’t true can make anxiety worse and keep the circle of panic going.

Behavioral Changes

Panic disorder can greatly change a person’s behavior and way of life. As they try to deal with their anxiety and avoid things that make them worry, they may start to avoid social situations, school, work, and other responsibilities. This can hurt ties with others and make you feel guilty or ashamed.

In some cases, people may use substances (like booze or drugs) to self-medicate and get rid of their anxiety, leading to more problems.

What To Do if You See These Signs?

If you notice signs indicating panic disorder in yourself or someone else, it’s essential to take appropriate steps to address the situation and seek help. Here’s what you can do:

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Encourage Open Communication

When you see signs of panic disorder in someone you know, it’s important to approach the situation with understanding and sensitivity. Make a place where they can talk about their thoughts and worries without fear of being judged.

Let them know you care about their well-being and are there for them whenever they want to talk. When someone is having trouble with their mental health, it’s important that they feel encouraged and understood. This can be done by encouraging open communication.

Seek Professional Help

If you think someone has a panic disorder, it is very important to suggest that they get to see a therapist. A qualified psychologist, psychiatrist, or therapist can do a full evaluation to determine if the symptoms are caused by a panic disorder or something else. They can give an accurate evaluation and make a treatment plan that may include behavioral therapy, medication, or a mix of both. 

Educate Yourself

Learning more about panic disorder can be invaluable in providing appropriate support. Read reputable sources and educate yourself about the symptoms, causes, and available treatments for panic disorder. Understanding the challenges individuals face with this condition can help you offer better assistance and encourage them to seek professional help when needed.

Encourage Self-Help Strategies

People with panic disorders need professional help, but they can also get better by using self-help techniques daily. Encourage them to use skills to relax, like deep breathing, mindfulness, or progressive muscle relaxation.

Physical activity, a healthy diet, and enough sleep can all help you feel better and less stressed. Offer to do these things with them, making it a shared experience to help them feel better and bring you closer.

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Crisis Intervention

Sometimes, an individual with panic disorder may experience an acute panic attack or crisis. If you are in this situation, stay with the person and provide a calm and reassuring presence.

Encourage slow, deep breathing to help them regulate their emotions. Remind them that the panic attack will pass and that they are not in immediate danger. 

Navigating Panic Disorder Criteria

Panic Disorder is a common mental health condition that affects many people. It’s important to be aware of the criteria and signs so that you can be aware of the symptoms and get help as soon as possible if needed.

If you think you may know someone with these panic disorder criteria, it’s important to talk to them and suggest seeking a doctor’s help to get a diagnosis and the help they need.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. If you found it helpful, be sure to check out our blog for more informative resources.