Chat with us, powered by LiveChat

Category: Panic Attacks

Is Panic Disorder a Disability?

A panic disorder can be a disability. If your symptoms are severe, they can significantly reduce your quality of life and make it difficult to engage in everyday activities. Fortunately, panic disorders can be treated with a combination of medications, therapy, and holistic approaches.

North Atlanta Behavioral Health provides evidence-based, outpatient mental health treatment in Atlanta, Georgia. Visit our admissions page today to begin treatment with us.

What Is Panic Disorder? (Signs + Symptoms)

A panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that causes episodes known as panic attacks.

Therefore, the primary symptom of a panic disorder is a panic attack. Panic attacks are unexpected episodes of intense fear with physical symptoms. Oftentimes, you feel like you are having a heart attack.

Some people have one panic attack triggered by some external event or internal feelings—and then never have another. This wouldn’t qualify as a panic disorder. However, if you have recurrent panic attacks without a clear trigger, then you most likely have a panic disorder.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of a Panic Attack?

The following are the signs and symptoms of panic attacks:

  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Excessive sweating
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Chest discomfort
  • Trouble breathing
  • Dry mouth and throat
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Tremors or shakes
  • Nausea
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands, feet, and arms
  • Feeling like you are removed from your environment (derealization)
  • Feeling detached from your own thoughts and feelings (depersonalization)

[Recommended: “Signs and Symptoms of a Silent Panic Attack]

In addition, when you have a panic disorder, you are overwhelmed by the fear of having another panic attack. This can limit your ability to live a full life, as you worry about where a panic attack could occur. For instance, you might not get a driver’s license for fear of having an attack while driving.

4.7% of US Adults Have a Panic Disorder in Their Lifetime

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “An estimated 4.7% of U.S. adults experience panic disorder at some time in their lives.”

However, this statistic doesn’t mean that a person will have panic attacks for their entire lives. Panic disorders are treatable and aren’t usually a persistent, lifelong issue. Still, for some, a panic disorder can be debilitating—impacting their ability to work, form relationships, and, in extreme cases, even leave their homes.

When Is Panic Disorder a Disability?

A panic disorder is a disability when your symptoms significantly limit one or more major life areas.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into US law in 1990. The ADA is a federal civil rights law that protects people with disabilities from discrimination. It also guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities and rights as everyone else.

According to the ADA, a person with a disability:

  • has a physical or mental impairment that limits their ability to function in one or more major life activities
  • has a psychiatric or medical history or record of this impairment
  • is perceived by others as having a limiting or visible impairment

Furthermore, the ADA defines major life activities as “the kind of activities that you do every day, including your body’s own internal processes.” For example:

  • Thinking or concentrating
  • Seeing, hearing, or feeling
  • Eating, speaking, sleeping, walking, or breathing
  • Performing tasks like working, reading, communicating, and learning
  • Major bodily functions (ex. circulation, reproduction)

Therefore, if panic attacks limit the above-mentioned life activities, you have a history of a panic disorder, and they occur often enough for others to notice, you could have a disability.

Even if your panic disorder is a disability, there are treatment options that can help you.

How Are Panic Disorders Treated?

Panic disorders are treated with a combination of psychiatric medication and psychotherapy.

Even if your panic disorder qualifies as a disability, treatment can reduce the severity of your symptoms. Over time, you may even resume formerly impaired major life activities. Thus, mental health treatment programs—whether your symptoms are mild or severe—will significantly improve your quality of life.

Which Medications Help With Panic Disorder?

Each person responds differently to psychiatric medications. So, you may need to try different types before you find the best medication for you.

The following medications can help with panic disorders:

  • Antidepressants
  • Beta-blockers
  • Benzodiazepines

Some medications are fast-acting and work to reduce symptoms during a panic attack. Others reduce anxiety and activity in the central nervous system (CNS) to prevent panic attacks from occurring.

Regardless of which medication works for you, medications alone won’t be enough. Instead, medications reduce symptoms so that you can fully participate in psychotherapy.

How Can Psychotherapy Help My Panic Disorder?

Psychotherapy can teach you more about the underlying causes of your panic disorder. It can also teach you healthy ways to reduce stress and anxiety. As a result, you can manage your symptoms so they don’t seem so out of control.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most common type of therapy for panic and anxiety disorders.

During CBT, you’ll learn how negative thought patterns and beliefs can influence your behaviors. After all, one of the worst parts of panic disorders is the fear of having a panic attack. Oftentimes, the fear of another attack holds you back more than the attack itself.

Furthermore, your therapist can recommend holistic approaches, like mindfulness, yoga, or exercise to reduce stress. With comprehensive treatment, including medications, therapy, and holistic approaches, you can overcome your panic disorder and reduce the likelihood of disabling symptoms.

Get Treatment for Your Panic Disorder Today

When left untreated, a panic disorder can become a disability. It can significantly reduce your ability to function in major life areas and lower your overall quality of life. However, panic disorders are treatable—and North Atlanta Behavioral Health has solutions for you.

Contact us today to begin panic disorder treatment in Atlanta, Georgia.

Read More

Signs and Symptoms of a Silent Panic Attack

Silent panic attacks can occur without warning and cause significant distress at the moment they occur. Not only that, but many people go to great lengths to avoid having a panic attack in public. As a result, they avoid living their life the way they want to—contributing to diminished mental health and lower quality of life.

North Atlanta Behavioral Health is here to help you overcome panic attacks and other mental health symptoms. Visit our admissions page today to learn more.

Silent Panic Attacks: Signs and Symptoms

Silent panic attacks are panic attacks without the typical physical symptoms.

When you have a silent panic attack, you experience the overwhelming fear and anxiety that characterizes panic. However, you don’t display outward physical symptoms like breathing difficulty, tremors, or sweating. Silent panic attacks, therefore, have less apparent symptoms and could go unrecognized as a result.

The signs and symptoms of silent panic attacks include the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Racing heart rate
  • Tingling in the limbs
  • Feeling weak
  • Intrusive or racing thoughts
  • Headache
  • Throat closing up
  • Changes in vision (light sensitivity, blurry)
  • Feeling detached or “derealization”

Thus, symptoms of a silent panic attack are subtle and not as readily apparent to others. These symptoms can even be difficult to describe to other people. For instance, derealization means you feel detached from your environment or body—and other people wouldn’t notice this symptom.

What Causes Silent Panic Attacks?

The causes of silent panic attacks aren’t well known. However, some factors could make you more susceptible, including:

  • Family history of panic attacks, anxiety, or other mental health disorders
  • Imbalance of brain chemicals that control your response to fear
  • History of trauma
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
  • Chronic stress
  • Negative thinking and perfectionism
  • Significant life changes (moving, loss of a loved one, childbirth)

Overall, underlying factors like these could lead to the development of any mental health disorder when you don’t have support and healthy coping skills. Oftentimes, mental health disorders result from maladaptive coping strategies (or no coping strategies) for stressors.

In other words, when you don’t have a healthy way to cope with stress, you are more vulnerable to developing disorders, like panic attacks and anxiety.

Silent vs. Regular Panic Attacks: What’s the Difference?

As stated above, the primary difference between silent and regular panic attacks is in the presentation of symptoms.

People with silent panic attacks have primarily internal and psychological symptoms. This means that other people won’t notice your symptoms. However, you will experience significant distress from them—and they will be quite noticeable to you.

But, with a regular panic attack, you might have symptoms such as:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Tremors or shaking
  • Troubled or labored breathing
  • Profuse sweating
  • Tightness in the chest

Panic attacks sometimes occur as a symptom of an underlying anxiety disorder. Other times, panic attacks manifest into a type of anxiety disorder called a panic disorder.

What is a Panic Disorder?

A panic disorder is defined by frequent panic attacks (silent or regular) as well as an overwhelming fear of having an attack.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), “[a]bout 2-3% of Americans experience panic disorder in a given year and it is twice as common in women than in men.”

Therefore, the challenge with a panic disorder is two-fold. On one hand, you experience debilitating panic attacks, which can come up at any time and often without any warning. On the other hand, you also fear having a panic attack, which might negatively impact your life as well.

Oftentimes, it’s the fear of having an attack that creates the most problems.

You might avoid situations where a panic attack would be embarrassing or dangerous. As a result, you might avoid socializing, going to a store, driving a car, or interviewing for a job.

Fortunately, there are solutions to managing panic attacks and treating panic disorders.

How Are Panic Disorders Treated?

Panic disorder treatment focuses on two things: (1) relief at the moment and (2) prevention of future attacks.

1. Relief for a Panic Attack When It Happens

What does “relief at the moment” mean with a panic attack? Well, this means being prepared for a panic attack so that you can cope with it more easily. In other words, if you can’t prevent the attack, you can learn to manage it when it occurs.

Some ways to deal with a panic attack when it happens include:

  • Focusing on something external, such as music, sights, smells, or sounds
  • Deep breathing to control your heart rate and shortness of breath
  • Getting to a safe space with less stimulation and people
  • Remember that this will pass

These tips can also reduce the unpleasant aftereffects—commonly called a panic attack hangover. In addition, your psychiatrist might prescribe fast-acting anti-anxiety medications to help you calm down quickly during a panic attack.

2. Preventing Panic Attacks

What about prevention? After all, if you have a panic disorder, you’d rather never have another panic attack again.

First off, remember that the better prepared you are for a panic attack, the less fear and anxiety you will feel about them. This will offer some relief, so think of preparation as an act of prevention—just being ready for an attack could reduce your anxiety and panic symptoms.

Still, there are treatment options that help to prevent panic attacks, including:

  • Psychiatry: Psychiatric medications can help to prevent panic attacks by alleviating the anxious thoughts and feelings that lead to them.
  • Psychotherapy: Individual and group therapy can help you cope with the psychological symptoms that accompany and cause panic attacks.
  • Holistic approaches: Panic disorders affect all aspects of your health and well-being. Addressing your physical and spiritual wellness with holistic therapy can help you manage your disorder.

Get Help for Panic Disorders Today

Silent panic attacks could be a sign of a panic disorder. If you experience overwhelming dread and panic frequently, our outpatient mental health treatment programs can help you. At North Atlanta Behavioral Health, we offer treatment for panic disorders as well as related anxiety disorders.

Contact us today to start panic disorder treatment in Atlanta, Georgia.

Read More

Panic Attack Hangover: The After Effects of a Panic Attack

If you’ve ever had a panic attack, you know how exhausting it can be. Panic attacks trigger a series of intense physical and emotional reactions in a short amount of time. The after effects, commonly called a panic attack hangover, leave you feeling drained and run down.

Panic attacks are a symptom of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety, along with depression, is one of the most common types of mental health disorders in the US. In February 2023, 32.3% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, according to KFF.

The good news is that you can find evidence-based treatment for anxiety. While anxiety feels overwhelming, you can learn to cope with your symptoms and reduce your chances of having panic attacks.

What Are the Symptoms of a Panic Attack?

A panic attack sets off your body’s flight or fight response. This response system helps you when you are threatened or are in imminent danger. Essentially, the flight or fight response releases hormones that help you either escape or combat danger.

But, with a panic attack, there is no imminent threat. So, your body builds energy, yet you have no outlet for it—nothing to fight or run away from. As a result, this energy expends itself within your body and can cause a panic attack.

The following are common symptoms of a panic attack:

  • Pounding and racing heart
  • Sweating
  • Chest tightness
  • Nausea and dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Stomach pain
  • Feeling weak

These symptoms are intense and usually peak within about 10 minutes. After about 20-30 minutes, most of these symptoms go away. Afterward, you will feel the after effects.

[Recommended: “Is Panic Disorder a Disability?” + “Signs and Symptoms of a Silent Panic Attack“]

What Are the After Effects of a Panic Attack?

The after effects of a panic attack, or a panic attack hangover, can occur for several hours or even days after a panic attack. After an intense surge of physical reactions within a short period of time, most people feel drained.

The effects of a panic attack hangover include the following:

  • Fatigue and exhaustion
  • Body pains
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling on edge or uneasy
  • Muscle soreness
  • Trembling and shaking
  • Chest pain

In addition, some symptoms of a panic attack hangover can include lingering symptoms of the panic attack itself—but less intense. And, you could also feel somewhat down or vulnerable after a panic attack. Some people feel ashamed or embarrassed about their panic attacks, which can lead to emotional and mental health symptoms.

What Causes a Panic Attack Hangover?

A panic attack hangover is a result of your adrenaline levels returning to normal. During a panic attack, adrenaline levels spike, increasing your alertness, energy, and blood flow to your muscles. This intense burst of energy and alertness leaves you feeling fatigued and emotionally drained.

In other words, your body expends a tremendous amount of energy within a short amount of time during a panic attack. As a result, you feel these effects as a panic attack hangover.

How to Recover From a Panic Attack Hangover

You can recover from a panic attack to lessen the severity of the after effects. The following holistic tips can help you recover from a panic attack hangover:

  • Light exercise and movement: A panic attack can leave you feeling fatigued, however, moving your body can help with the after effects. Exercise improves blood flow and releases endorphins that help you stabilize your mood after a panic attack. You can do something with low intensity, like stretching, yoga, or going for a walk.
  • Get some rest: If you can take a short nap, this can also restore some of your energy. However, try not to nap too long or you may disrupt your sleep cycle. This can make things worse if you don’t get restful sleep at night.
  • Eat a healthy snack: Eating something healthy like nuts or fruit can restore glucose levels in your blood. In turn, this can give you energy and reduce symptoms like headache and fatigue.
  • Go someplace else to recover: Oftentimes, an overwhelming environment can trigger a panic attack. So, to recover, go to a restful and secluded place. That way, you can recover and reduce your chances of triggering another panic attack.
  • Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness exercises can help you redirect your focus. You can try deep breathing, listening to music, taking a walk in nature, or body scanning. The important thing is to focus on something in your environment to take your mind off your panic triggers.
  • Call a loved one: Talking to someone you can trust about what happened can help you recover from a panic attack hangover. This can help you vent and process your feelings. You might also figure out what triggered your panic attack by talking things through.

Panic attacks are distressing and can make you feel like something horrible is happening to you. However, these are often the result of a specific trigger or a buildup of unresolved anxiety. So, if you struggle with panic attacks, finding a mental health treatment program can help you learn healthy ways of coping with stress and anxiety.

Get Help for Panic Attacks and Anxiety Disorders Today

At North Atlanta Behavioral Health, we understand that panic attacks can be draining and overwhelming. Afterward, the panic attack hangover can leave you feeling weak, fatigued, and even ashamed. However, anxiety disorders that cause panic attacks can be treated, and many people make a full recovery from their disorders.

Contact us today to begin treatment for anxiety and panic attacks.

Read More