Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia Defined

What is panic disorder and agoraphobia and how do they affect someone? For most, everyday life stressors don’t usually result in anxiety and associated panic attacks. We tend to deal with job changes and relocating, pregnancy and childbirth, death and sickness fairly well. Emotional stressors for panic attack sufferers, whether in the remote past or recent events, are handled in a completely different manner. Because of this varying time table of events that exacerbate panic attack symptoms, a specific medical cause has not been established. One major link in the cause of panic attacks however, is the association of extended periods of stressful situations. We aren’t talking about a week or two. This can go back several months or even years.

In addition, the probability of experiencing a panic attack in these patients increases even with what most would consider daily life stressors like additional job duties at work or the piling up of household chores. Instead of going on with business as usual, the panic-prone person might see this as a life altering event, thus becoming a catalyst for a panic attack.

Panic Disorder Defined

Often times a panic attack seems to come from nowhere with no foreseen exacerbating factor. The fact is, they can happen to any person at any given point in time. The vast majority of people will experience at least one occurrence of panic in their lifetime, if not more. Then there are the few that suffer from a panic disorder wherein they endure repeated episodes of panic traced to a remote traumatic experience, present life stressors or even something totally different.

The panic attack itself usually is short, but the effects are all too often long-term and devastating. Enhanced emotional stress and pronounced fear of the next attack coincide with panic disorder. This fear is debilitating and eventually causes self-doubt and low self-image issues. These negative aspects then spill over into every day life and activities of daily living. The discerning cause relating to panic attacks and panic disorder may vary from patient to patient, but all of them head down a dark road to the following symptoms:

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  • Fear of the next attack – The sufferer simply can’t relax never knowing when the next big attack is going to hit. There is an immeasurable amount of anxiety and tension in the meantime.
  • Situational avoidance – Certain situations and environments may be thought to cause an attack, therefore the patient is definitely going to steer clear. Another instance is when a sufferer would completely avoid any situation or location where emergency help is unobtainable.

Agoraphobia Defined

The most common definition for agoraphobia is a fear of public places or big, open spaces. Literal interpretation is “fear of the marketplace” and it is thought to be a direct result of panic disorder and panic attacks. Symptoms differ from patient to patient, but a common factor is being in public or being alone. Sounds a lot like situational avoidance listed above right? The main difference is agoraphobia patient’s are severely limited in their daily activities. Even stepping outside the house can sometimes cause terrible anxiety. There are agoraphobia natural treatments available so you do not need to suffer this disorder without a little help.

Those afflicted with panic disorder generally lead normal lives and stay pretty active with special attention given to those limited activities thought to be a precipitating factor for panic. On the flip side of the coin, an agoraphobic limits many activities due to fearful thoughts that ultimately control their lives.

With either condition both are resultant of panic attacks. For both knowing your limits and what causes panic can greatly reduce recurrence and worsening. It is recommended to seek the advice of a qualified medical professional at the first notion of a panic attack.

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About Jennifer Johnson

I suffered with social anxiety and stress for years. I discovered what my triggers were and learned to control them. Hopefully some of the natural anxiety relief techniques I have tried, will also be your solution.

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