Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by “panic attacks” or the sudden onset of extreme fear and terror. People who suffer from this condition might feel fine one minute but panic the next. They often feel as though they have no control over the situation, like they are trapped, and like something awful is going to befall them. At Molina Psychiatric Associates, we understand how debilitating panic disorder can be. It’s very difficult to live a normal life when you’re in constant fear of having another attack. That’s why we are always available to answer your questions and set up an evaluation appointment.
Panic disorder affects more females than males and usually sets in during the young adult years, often during times of unusual stress. Most sufferers see improvement with medication and therapy to help them calm down and retrain their thought processes. With over 25 years of experience treating anxiety disorders, Dr. Molina will be glad to help you overcome your panic disorder with a thorough evaluation, careful diagnosis, and continual medication monitoring.
What Causes Panic Disorder?
Everyone’s body has a fight-or-flight instinct that protects them in times of danger. When we face a perceived threat, our heartbeat speeds up, our blood flow increases, and our pupils dilate so that we can identify and react to the danger before it harms us. Adrenaline floods our system to give us extra strength and speed. This was extremely important for our ancestors who lived in a much more dangerous and violent world than we do today.
Problems occur when this natural response is triggered in the absence of danger. People suffering from panic disorder might be walking through a store or other safe location when they are suddenly overtaken by panic and dread. This mortal terror can become traumatic and cause the person to avoid certain locations and situations for fear of having another panic attack.
Symptoms of Panic Disorder
Panic disorder can cause the following mental and physical symptoms:
- Rapid Heartbeat or Palpitations
- Chest Pain
- Stomach Pain or Nausea
- Shortness of Breath
- Weakness or Dizziness
- Sweating or Flushing
- Trembling or Shaking
- Cold Chills
- Numbness or Tingling
- Fear of Dying
- Fear of Going Insane
Most of these symptoms are signs of anxiety. The difference is the severity and spontaneity of panic attacks. A person who suffers from anxiety might be aware that their fear has no basis in fact, while a person with panic disorder is at the mercy of their body’s flight response during an episode. Their unwillingness to return to locations where they experienced panic attacks can interfere with their daily lives.
Treatment of Panic Disorder
Panic disorder can usually be reduced to a manageable level through a combination of medications and cognitive restructuring therapy. The goal is to retrain the person’s thought patterns to go down a healthier path that does not lead to panic. When this has been achieved, the patient will be able to function in stressful situations again without living in fear of another attack.
As a licensed psychiatrist, Dr. Molina helps patients regain control of their lives by getting a detailed medical history from each patient, providing an accurate diagnosis, prescribing appropriate medications, and monitoring the patient’s progress. At each 20-minute follow-up exam, the patient has the opportunity to tell Dr. Molina about any unacceptable side effects they may be experiencing. He will adjust their dosage or recommend a different medication that they tolerate better. Drugs used to treat panic disorder can include antidepressants, mild sedatives, and sleep aids.
Molina Psychiatric Associates: Caring, Compassionate Treatment
Dr. Molina is an exceptional psychiatrist who empathizes with and listens to his patients. If you would like to take your treatment in a different direction or try a different medication, he is always willing to listen and take a collaborative approach.
Call us today to schedule an appointment, or use our convenient online form to get in touch. Don’t let anxiety or mood disorders ruin your life. Take the first step toward mental health by reaching out to us. You will find only support and skilled medical care, never judgement, at our office. With Molina Psychiatric Associates at your side, you will never have to face panic disorder alone.
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Molina Psychiatric Associates, P.A.
2485 E. Southlake Blvd.,
Southlake, Texas 76092
Monday-Thursday: 7am - 4pm