In an earlier post, I wrote about the symptoms, triggers and treatment of a panic attack — an intense and often sudden wave of distress that can include physical symptoms like heart racing and shortness of breath.
In addition, I explained that while panic attacks can be brought on by a trauma or phobia, they can also be caused by more subconscious influences that are a bit harder to nail down.
Above all, the most important thing I wanted you to remember about panic attacks is that they’re not inherently life-threatening and aren’t necessary indicative of a more widespread issue.
Which brings me to this post.
EXPLAINING PANIC DISORDER
Panic attacks become a greater cause for concern when they happen so frequently that they begin to affect a person’s everyday life and cause them to become fearful or make drastic behavioural changes (i.e. avoiding people, places or things) to avert another episode.
This escalation of factors is known as panic disorder and it affects approximately 3.7% of Canadians in their lifetimes, with women being more likely to suffer than men.
HOW CAN PANIC DISORDER BE TREATED?
As with panic attacks themselves, panic disorder is treatable.
A therapy professional can not only help identify triggers that lead to frequent attacks and the fear surrounding them, they can provide evidence-based solutions aimed at preventing future occurrences. Self-help techniques, like controlled-breathing and grounding exercises, along with joining a local support group can also be effective as part of a multifaceted treatment plan.
Panic Disorder does not have to define you!
MENTAL HEALTH CHECK-IN
With this being Mental Health Week across Canada, it’s a good reminder to check-in with your own mental health and that of your loved ones. Here is a great toolto get you started!
Remember, it’s never too late to get help and support is always available.
Lindsay Ross, MSW RSW, is a clinical social worker in private practice in Toronto, Ontario.