WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- Panic disorder, or PD, is a type of anxiety disorder. It is a condition where you have sudden panic attacks that occur again and again. A panic attack is a period of strong fear or discomfort. Panic attacks may also include symptoms such as trouble breathing, chest pain, and pounding or fast heartbeat. You may also feel like you are choking, and be dizzy or light-headed. You may fear that you are losing control of yourself. Panic disorder may come and go, and may last a long time.
- The panic attacks in PD cause you to worry about what may happen because of the attack. You may try to change your behavior or way of life to stop another attack. The panic attacks may make you scared to be in the same place, or do the same thing where attacks have happened before. This is called agoraphobia. In PD with agoraphobia, you avoid doing things or being in places in case an attack occurs. You fear being in places where it may be hard to get away or find help during an attack.
- Tests may be done to see if your symptoms are caused by a medical condition. Your caregiver will use a guide to learn if you have agoraphobia with your PD. Therapy and medicines, such as tranquilizers and anti-anxiety medicine, are used to treat PD. With treatment, your anxiety (worry) may decrease, and your panic symptoms may go away.
Take your medicine as directed.
Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:
For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.
Keeping a diary of your panic attacks:
Bring the diary with you every time you see your caregiver. Write answers to the following in your diary:
- Did anything help ease or stop the attack, such as trying to relax?
- Did you try a new food, medicine, or herbal supplement?
- How often do you have attacks? How long do they last?
- What signs and symptoms did you have?
- What were you doing when the panic attack started?
- What were your thoughts and feelings during the attack?
- Were you stressed or upset just before the attack?
- Avoid foods and drinks that have caffeine: This may include coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks, and chocolate.
- Do not drink too much alcohol: If you drink alcohol, talk to your caregiver about how much and how often you drink.
- Exercise: Exercise can help you decrease stress and anxiety. Talk to your caregiver before you start exercising. Together you can plan the best exercise program for you. It is best to start slowly and do more as you get stronger. Exercising also makes your heart stronger, lowers blood pressure, and keeps you healthy.
- Quit smoking: Smoking harms the heart, lungs, and the blood. You will help yourself and those around you by not smoking. Ask your caregiver for more information about how to stop smoking if you are having trouble quitting.
- Manage your stress: Stress may slow healing and lead to illness. Learn ways to control stress, such as relaxation, deep breathing, and music. Talk to someone about things that upset you.
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- You have new symptoms since you last saw your caregiver.
- Your worry keeps you from doing your daily tasks, such as work, or caring for yourself or your family.
- You have problems that you think may be caused by the medicine you are taking.
- Your symptoms, such as chest pain or trouble breathing, are getting worse.
- You have questions or concerns about your illness, medicine, or care.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
- You feel light-headed, dizzy to stand up, or you faint.
- You feel like killing yourself.
- You have chest pain, tightness, or heaviness that spreads to your shoulders, arms, jaw, neck, or back.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.