Panic Disorder, A Real Illness
Does This Sound Like You?
Do you have sudden bursts of fear for no reason?
Do you feel awful when they happen?
- I have chest pains or a racing heart.
- I have hard time breathing.
- I have a choking feeling.
- I feel dizzy.
- I sweat a lot.
- I have stomach problems or feel like I need to throw up.
- I shake, tremble, or tingle.
- I feel out of control.
- I feel unreal.
- I am afraid I am dying or going crazy.
- If you put a check in the box next to some of these problems, you may have Panic Disorder.
Panic disorder is a real illness that needs to be treated. It is not your fault if you have this illness, and you do not have to suffer.
Read this booklet and learn how to get help. You can feel better and get your life back!
1. What is panic disorder?
Panic disorder is a real illness and can be treated, with medicine or therapy.
If you have panic disorder, you feel suddenly terrified for no reason. These frequent bursts of terror are called panic attacks. During a panic attack, you also have scary physical feelings like a fast heartbeat, trouble breathing, or dizziness.
Panic attacks can happen at any time and any place without warning. They often happen in grocery stores, malls, crowds, or while traveling.
You may live in constant fear of another attack and may stay away from places where you have had an attack. For some people, fear takes over their lives and they are unable to leave their homes.
Panic attacks do not last long, but they are so scary they feel like they go on forever.
2. When does panic disorder start and how long does it last?
It usually starts when people are young adults, around 18 to 24 years old. Sometimes it starts when a person is under a lot of stress, for example after the death of a loved one or after having a baby.
Anyone can have panic disorder, but more women than men have the illness. It sometimes runs in families.
Panic disorder can last for a few months or for many years.
No. You are not alone. In any year, 2.4 million Americans have panic disorder.
3. What can I do to help myself?
Talk to your doctor about your fear and panic attacks. Tell your doctor if the panic attacks keep you from doing everyday things and living your life. You may want to show your doctor this booklet. It can help you explain how you feel. Ask your doctor for a checkup to make sure you do not have some other illness.
Ask your doctor if he or she has helped other people with panic disorder. Special training helps doctors treat people with panic disorder. If your doctor doesn’t have special training, ask for the name of a doctor or counselor who does.
Get more information. Call 1-866-615-6464 to have free information mailed to you.
You can feel better.
5. What can a doctor or counselor do to help me?
The doctor may give you medicine. Medicine usually helps people with panic disorder feel better after a few weeks.
Talking to a specially trained doctor or counselor who can teach you ways to cope with your panic attacks, helps many people with panic disorder. This is called “therapy.” Therapy will help you feel less afraid and anxious.
Here is one person’s story:
“One day, without any warning or reason, I felt terrified. I was so afraid; I thought I was going to die. My heart was pounding and my head was spinning. I would get these feelings every couple of weeks. I thought I was losing my mind.
“The more attacks I had, the more afraid I got. I was always living in fear. I did not know when I might have another attack. I became so afraid that I did not want to leave my house or other safe places.
“My friend saw how afraid I was and told me to call my doctor for help. My doctor told me I have panic disorder. My doctor gave me medicine that helps me feel less afraid. I have also been working with a counselor learning ways to cope with my fear. I had to work hard, but after a few months of medicine and therapy, I’m starting to feel like myself again.”
Remember – you can get help now:
Talk to your doctor about your fear and panic attacks. Call 1-866-615-6464. It is a free call. You will get free information about panic disorder mailed to you.