Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by frequent and disruptive panic attacks. Although most people will experience panic attacks infrequently in their lives, people with panic disorder experience them regularly and with greater intensity.

What Is Clinical Anxiety?

Anxiety is at the core of panic disorder. All people will feel anxiety at some point in their lives, but it can be hard to recognize. Anxiety may sometimes mimic or present as other feelings, including anger, depression, or exhaustion. For men, anxiety may appear differently than in women, presenting with increased physical symptoms and intense, out-of-control anxious feelings. 

Multiple techniques may make it easier to identify anxiety. Grounding techniques, such as deep breathing, counting down from ten, or identifying sensory experiences, can assist you in recognizing your emotions. In addition, mental health professionals are a vital resource for understanding your emotions and can aid you in this process.

Some people experience higher levels of anxiety, more intense anxiety, or more disruptive anxiety. When anxiety is a significant problem in one’s life, it is typically diagnosed as an anxiety disorder such as panic disorder.

Symptoms of Panic Disorder

The primary factor by which panic disorder is experienced and diagnosed is the presence of panic attacks. Panic attacks are a period of intensified anxiety that may cause additional physical symptoms. Symptoms of a panic attack may include:

  • Sudden dread or fear
  • Racing heart
  • Hyperventilation or shaky breathing
  • Numbness and tingling, especially on the face or hands
  • Headache
  • Cramping or nausea
  • Hot flashes or chills

In addition, people with panic disorder experience symptoms unique to the disorder. People with panic disorder may experience the following symptoms:

  • Fear of oncoming panic attacks
  • Anxiety around situations associated with panic attacks
  • A significant change in behavior after panic attacks begun
  • Feeling of ordering your life around avoiding panic attacks

In order to qualify as panic disorder, there must be a history of panic attacks, with a minimum of at least two panic attacks. The presence of panic attacks alone is not enough to diagnose panic disorder; there must also be a reaction or change in your behavior as a result of the panic disorder.

Panic Disorder Statistics

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 2.7% of U.S. adults had a panic disorder in the previous year. Throughout their entire lives, 4.7% of U.S. adults will have panic disorder. Experts believe that panic disorder may be genetic. Current theories suggest that panic attacks may mimic our fight-or-flight response. 

Why Is Panic Disorder Treatment Important?

Panic disorder is a serious psychiatric disorder that can cause distress for those with its symptoms. Panic attack symptoms often mimic symptoms of heart attacks or strokes, which may cause undue concern for those with the disorder or result in expensive healthcare visits. In addition, panic attack symptoms can be debilitating by themselves. Those facing frequent panic attacks often struggle to go to work or school, complete daily tasks, or take care of themselves or their families. The fear of panic attacks may result in agoraphobia or other conditions, creating further challenges.

However, treatment is possible. There are several effective treatment techniques for panic disorder, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure therapy, and medications. Talk to your doctor before beginning treatment.

What Makes Our Program Unique?

Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention, located in the College Area of San Diego, California, offers holistic, cutting-edge treatment to those with panic disorder and other psychiatric disorders. Our Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU), offering fewer than 16 beds at a time, is designed to ensure our clients receive individualized, high-quality care in the ways that work best for them. 

Getting Help at Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention 

While in treatment, we provide a full suite of treatment options to help you on your path to recovery. Our treatment options include:

  • Medication management: Medications can be vital to the treatment of panic disorder. For clients with existing prescriptions, our staff will aid in monitoring and managing your medications. 
  • Whole-person wellness: We understand that each person with panic disorder has specific life experiences that must be understood to achieve effective treatment. At Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention, we utilize trauma-informed treatment methods alongside carefully individualized treatment to ensure the best possible treatment.
  • Recovery and safety planning: Your safety is vital to us. While in treatment, we work with clients to ensure their safety and help them on the path to recovery. Remember, recovery is a journey, not a destination — and we’re here to plan it out with you.
  • Support services: Clients in our CSU have access to a variety of proven treatment methods, including CBT, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and psycho-educational groups. These modalities have been specifically chosen to provide a wide range of useful skills for your journey.
  • Family and community support: The core of many recovery journeys is access to a social safety net. While in our CSU, we help our clients to establish and strengthen the social circles that can support them on their path to recovery. 
  • Nutrition and recreation services: It can be easy to sideline the rest of your health while you focus on recovery from a crisis. We have your back. While in our CSU, our expert staff will aid you in ensuring your dietary and recreational needs are fully met. 

Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention is a holistic, trauma-informed crisis center equipped to support you in your recovery from panic disorder. To learn more about our services, call (619) 457-4613.