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It is quite natural for a person to worry about certain things during his day to day life. But what if he starts worrying too much and so often that it ceases to be a natural thing and looks more like a disease? Could he be suffering from panic disorder?

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.

However, if the feeling of panic grips you quite often without any apparent reason, you are pretty anxious most of the times, then there is a high probability that you are suffering from panic disorder.

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:

  • Heredity 

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.

  • Substance abuse

Panic disorder is common in people abusing drugs or alcohol.

  • Stressful situations 

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.

Continue reading after recommendations

  • “Panic disorder”, by Mohammed A Memon, published on March 29, 2011 at the site Medscape Reference, accessed on December 28, 2012.
  • “How do I know if it is Panic Disorder?” by Steve Bressert, published in the 2006 issue of the journal Psych Central, accessed on December 28, 2012.
  • “Panic Disorder”, last reviewed on March 25, 2012 at the Pub Med Health site, accessed on December 28, 2012.
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