Panic Attacks and Panic Disorder (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Exams and Tests
You may be diagnosed with panic disorder if you have at least two unexpected panic attacks along with fear or worry about having another panic attack and avoiding situations that may trigger it.
The doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms. He or she will listen to your heart and check your blood pressure. You may get blood tests. The doctor may need to rule out other physical conditions that have symptoms similar to panic disorder, such as a heart attack, mitral valve prolapse, or hyperthyroidism.
Successful treatment reduces how many panic attacks you have and how often you have them. It lowers the anxiety you feel because of the fear of future attacks. And it improves the quality of your life. Treatment includes:
Unfortunately, many people don't seek treatment for anxiety disorders. You may not seek treatment because you think the symptoms aren't bad enough. Or maybe you think that you can work things out on your own. But getting treatment is important.
If you need help deciding whether to see your doctor, see some reasons why people don't get help and how to overcome them.
If your panic attacks were caused by a specific trigger, such as a medicine reaction, you may not need treatment after the trigger has been removed. In this case, that would mean stopping the medicine with the help of your doctor.
But sometimes panic attacks caused by outside factors can continue after the trigger has been removed. They may turn into panic disorder.
Panic attacks may also start suddenly without a known trigger.
Recurring panic attacks
Even after treatment is stopped because the attacks appear to be under control, attacks can suddenly return. Learn your early warning signs and triggers so you can seek treatment early.
If your panic attacks get too severe or happen too often, you may need to be hospitalized until they are under control. You also may need a brief hospital stay if you have panic attacks along with another health condition, such as agoraphobia or depression. Panic attacks combined with these conditions can be harder to treat.
An important part of ongoing treatment is making sure that you are taking your medicine as prescribed. Often people who feel better after using medicine for a period of time may believe they are "cured" and no longer need treatment. But when medicine is stopped, symptoms usually return. So it's important to continue the treatment plan.
You will be continually checked to see if you have other conditions linked with panic disorder, such as depression or problems with drugs or alcohol. These conditions will also need treatment.
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