Panic Disorder, A Real Illness

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?

Check the statements that apply to you during these sudden bursts of fear.

  • I have chest pains or a racing heart.

  • I have a 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's not your fault if you have this illness, and you don't have to suffer.

1. What is panic disorder?

Panic disorder is a real illness. It 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 don't 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.

3. Am I the only person with this illness?

No. You are not alone. In any year, 2.4 million Americans
have panic disorder.

4. What can I do to help myself?

Talk to your doctor about your fear and panic

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
don't 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 didn't know when I might have another attack. I became so afraid that
I didn't 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've 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.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is part of the
Federal government. NIMH conducts medical research to find new and better ways
to prevent and treat mental illnesses. NIMH also provides free information
about mental illnesses.

To get free information about other mental illnesses, write to

NIMH at:

National Institute of Mental Health
6001 Executive Boulevard
Room 8184, MSC 9663
Bethesda, MD 20892-9663

Phone: 301-443-5413 or
1-866-615-NIMH (6464) toll-free
TTY: 301-443-8431
TTY: 866-415-8051
FAX: 301-443-4279

Web site:

You can also find free NIMH information online at:

For information on panic disorders, go to
MedLinePlus®, a service of the U.S. National Library of
Medicine and the National Institutes of Health at the following website:

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1 comment:

Tammy said...

I have a severe case of panic disorder and I appreciate you getting the word out about this very real disease. When I was first diagnosed in 1993 I had never heard of it. I assumed I was going crazy. I don't want anymore people to feel as if they're alone in this.