What It Really Means When You Have A Panic Disorder

Panic attacks are, without a doubt, a terrifying experience to go through. If you've had a panic attack, you're all too familiar with the sense of dread that sets in as the attack begins. What's even scarier is that it's sometimes hard to pinpoint when and where an attack might occur. Many people who have experienced a panic attack describe the experience as feeling helpless because the reason for the panic doesn't seem to exist (via WebMD). It can seemingly pop up out of nowhere, leaving you in a bind. You suddenly feel afraid. Your body reacts to this new sense of fear in a way that can be extremely jarring.

But the good news is that more and more people are finding out that there is an actual diagnosis and therefore help for this scary occurrence. If you are experiencing repeated panic attacks, it's very likely you have what is called panic disorder.

Panic disorders are more common than you might think

If you have panic disorder, the truth is that you're not facing this alone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, panic disorder is actually a very common mental health issue that many people are dealing with today. Sometimes knowing that you're not in this fight alone can make handling the symptoms of panic disorder much easier.

Doctors have discovered that panic disorder is most likely to make an appearance when you are a young adult and if you're female (via the National Institute of Mental Health). Young adults diagnosed with panic disorder may wonder why they are facing a mental health problem at such an early stage in life. At this time, we don't have much of an answer to that.

A study by the National Institutes of Health believes that hormones play a role in how our bodies react to fear, so those with hormonal imbalances may be more prone to panic disorder. However, according to BMJ Journals, researchers believe that genetics play a role in whether or not you're more likely to have panic disorder.

Panic disorder is treatable

Being diagnosed with panic disorder means you are experiencing at least a few of many symptoms. These symptoms can include panic attacks, nausea, racing thoughts, the fear of dying, and shortness of breath (via Johns Hopkins Medicine). These symptoms can make living with panic disorder difficult. Existing in a state of constant fear can make even normal, everyday events like going to work or school seem terrifying. The thought of having an attack in a public place like either one of these may even have those diagnosed as having panic disorder not wanting to leave home. And staying indoors too often isn't exactly great for your health.

But here's some awesome news — panic disorder isn't something you have to just deal with. In fact, as noted by Johns Hopkins Medicine, doctors say that it can be treated. There are many anti-anxiety medications that can help fight off symptoms of panic disorder. Counseling is another great way to learn coping mechanisms to better handle yourself when you are experiencing a panic attack.