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What Is Panic Disorder & How Is It Treated?

Learn about panic disorder and treatment from psychiatrist Ankur Saraiya in this Howcast video.


Panic disorder is grouped in a group of disorders known as anxiety disorders. The first point I want to make is to differentiate a panic attack from a panic disorder. A panic attack is a discrete period of anxiety that comes on out the blue that lasts for about 30 or 40 minutes and generally will resolve on its own accord. The attack is characterised by thoughts such as the thought that one is going crazy one is going to lose their mind or that one is going to die and accompanied by certain physical sensations palpitations ,clammy skin, queasiness in the stomach and these together comprise a panic attack and panic disorder is the presence of panic attacks coupled with the fear of having another panic attack and behaviour and effort put in to try to avoid having a panic attack but because panic attacks come on out of the blue its actually pretty much impossible for these individuals to be able to predict and therefore control when they are going to have a panic attack. As a result the best treatment for panic disorder is to be evaluated by a psychiatrist and started on medication which can effectively prevent and control panic attacks and then over time as the individual learns that the panic attacks can be prevented it will eventually lead them to a state where their fear of having a panic attack is greatly reduced because they know that they can be prevented and they can be prevented using medications to take on a daily basis to help avoid having panic attacks altogether. They can also be managed with medication that can be taken once a panic attack has started and in that way the individual gains control over their panic attacks and over time just knowing that they have the medication with them helps them avoid having panic attacks and they don't need to take the medication. I have patients who have carried around the same pill of their medication for years because just knowing that they have it is enough to help them control the disorder. If you or someone you know has symptoms that may be panic disorder I would strongly recommend you get evaluated by a psychiatrist because there are definitely treatments available that can help you control these symptoms.

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