WHAT ARE PANIC ATTACKS?
Panic attacks may be symptoms of an anxiety disorder. Panic symptoms are strikingly different from other types of anxiety; panic attacks are so very sudden and often unexpected, appear to be unprovoked, and are often disabling.
Once someone has had a panic attack, for example, while driving, shopping in a crowded store, or riding in an elevator, he or she may develop irrational fears, called phobias, about these situations and begin to avoid them.
Eventually, the pattern of avoidance and level of anxiety about another attack may reach the point at which the mere idea of doing things that preceded the first panic attack triggers future panic attacks, resulting in the individual with panic disorder being unable to drive or even step out of the house.
At this stage, the person is said to have panic disorder with agoraphobia. Thus, there are two types of panic disorder, panic disorder with or without agoraphobia.
Like other illnesses, panic disorder can have a serious impact on a person's daily life unless the individual receives effective treatment.
Panic attacks in children may result in the child's grades declining, avoiding school and other separations from parents, as well as substance abuse, depression, and suicidal thoughts, plans, and/or actions.