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What Is Panic Disorder And Tips To Manage It

Want to understand what panic disorder is, how it can make you feel in your body and mind and some tips to manage it?

Mental health challenges can show up in lots of different ways among young people. For example, certain situations can make someone feel anxious, while others might feel stress. You are unique and so are your experiences, and it’s important to understand and respect that.

However, there are certain patterns that can be similar from person to person. Knowing these can help you to understand what you might be going through which may lead to better, more focused help.

We dive into some of the more common mental health challenges, such as panic disorder.

What Is Panic Disorder?

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines panic disorder as:

Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms that may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress. These episodes occur “out of the blue,” not in conjunction with a known fear or stressor.

According to NIMH an estimated 2.3% of 13-18 year-old Americans had panic disorder. And panic disorder often begins in the late teens to early adulthood, with women more likely than men to develop it. People with panic disorder have regular and unexpected panic attacks.

A panic attack is a sudden period of intense fear, discomfort, or sense of losing control even when there is no clear danger or trigger. But not everyone who experiences a panic attack will develop panic disorder.

Today’s young people face monumental challenges at home and abroad, it’s OK to feel overwhelmed by it all. Why not focus on the things you can control and strengthen your mental resilience? Below we share some tips to get you started.

How Panic Disorder Can Make You Feel

Panic attacks can occur as frequently as several times a day or as rarely as a few times a year. During a panic attack, a person may experience:

  • Pounding race or heart
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or tingling
  • Chest pain
  • Feelings of impending doom
  • Feelings of being out of control

People with panic disorder may have:

  • Sudden and repeated panic attacks of overwhelming anxiety and fear
  • A feeling of being out of control, or a fear of death or impending doom during a panic attack
  • An intense worry about when the next panic attack will happen
  • A fear or avoidance of places where panic attacks have occurred in the past

An untreated panic disorder can affect your quality of life and lead to difficulties at work or school. The good news is panic disorder is treatable.

If you or someone you know is struggling or having thoughts of suicide, call or text 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org. In life-threatening situations, call 911.

Tips To Help You Manage Panic Disorder And Panic Attacks

The first step to prevent or reduce the effect of panic attacks is understanding what they are – so you’re in the right place to learn more! Here’s some tips on how to deal with a panic attack if you or someone you know is experiencing one:

  • During a panic attack, it is of utmost importance that you bring your mind’s attention to your breathing. Breathe in slowly and then let out your breath slowly as well. Focusing on your breath will help bring your heart rate back to baseline and will tell your brain that you are not in danger.
  • At the same time, you can also try focusing on one of your senses, like touching something that your mind can focus on, squeezing a ball, or a soft texture.
  • After a panic attack, you might feel tired and confused. Do not ignore the event. Instead focus on what your body or mind might need. Do something you know will make you feel better, like eat, rest or go for a walk.
  • Talk to a healthcare provider who can give you the tools for you to control the thoughts or situations that may trigger an attack.

Additional Resources And Support On Panic Disorder

NIMH have a resource on ‘How can I support myself and others with panic disorder?

Anxiety and Depression Association of America have a range of panic disorder resources, including ‘4 Tips on Managing Your Panic‘ and ‘Outsmart Your Anxious Brain.’

Disclaimer: This website offers general information and is not a substitute for professional advice. We are not clinicians or trained professionals; this information should not replace seeking help from a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult a healthcare provider for personalized guidance.