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You’ll hardly meet a person without any worries or fears. Everyone suffers from anxiety or fear at point or another. It is perfectly human to get stressed out at times, especially when you are in some kind of danger.
Panic disorder is a condition where you have recurring and regular panic attacks without any obvious reason. The body of a person having a panic attack experiences intense psychological and physical symptoms. During panic attacks, the patient’s fear response to non-threatening situations is completely out of proportion. A patient suffering from panic disorder can have several panic attacks per day to only a few attacks per year. The panic attacks in panic disorder are different from panic attacks in other anxiety disorders as they take place without any discernible predictable precipitant.
Apart from panic attacks, a panic disorder is characterized by persistent fear of another attack. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR), panic disorder includes panic attacks associated with more than 1 month of subsequent persistent worry about
(1) having another attack,
(2) consequences of the attack, or
(3) significant behavioral changes related to the attack.
Women are twice more likely to suffer from panic disorder compared to men. Although a person of any age, including a child, can suffer from this condition, it is more commonly seen after the age of twenty. It is believed that around 2.4 million adults in America suffer from panic disorder. In UK, one in every 100 persons has this problem.
Reason behind panic disorder
Although it is difficult to pin-point the exact reason behind panic disorders, several biological and environmental factors have been implicated. They include:
Studies have shown that panic disorder runs in families. If either of the parents is suffering from this condition, the likelihood of children developing it is strong. In case of identical twins, the chances of one of the twins developing panic disorder are 40% in case the other twin is also suffering from the condition.
Panic disorder is common in people abusing drugs or alcohol.
Particularly stressful conditions, like death of a close relative can precipitate panic disorder in susceptible individuals.
Although the above mentioned factors increase the risk of panic disorder, many a time people may develop this problem without any apparent reason.