Do you think you have a panic disorder with agoraphobia? Before you convince yourself of this, you should first know what these two are exactly and what you are up against. Let us find out the amount of what can panic disorder with agoraphobia do to you.
What is Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia?
Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder wherein a person experiences a crippling episode in which fear or terror is the most predominant feeling. This fear or terror strikes without any warning and for no reason at all. Common symptoms are profuse sweating, irregular heartbeat and the feeling of having a heart attack due to chest pains and choking or worst the bizarre feeling of “going crazy”.
Agoraphobia, on the other hand, is the fear of not being able to escape a specific situation. In its relation to panic disorder, it's the fear of having a panic attack outside of the person's comfort zone, or familiar place such as the bedroom or home. Because a person with agoraphobia fears being confined in a situation where there is no escape or way out, the tension is to stay away from any situation by not leaving a comfort zone where he / she does not have to interact with unfamiliar people.
Symptoms of a Panic Attack
We have described the symptoms usually seen in panic disorder patients but these symptoms are all physical in nature. The truth is that the symptoms of a panic attack can be divided into four categories: Physical Sensations, Emotions, Thoughts and Behaviors.
- Physical Symptoms. Profuse sweating, irregular or rapid heartbeat, chest pains, numbness of the hands and feet, feeling of choking or shallow breathing, stomach ache, trembling or shaking are all physical manifestations of a panic attack. These are all the physical sensations you feel when an attack is coming on, on going or about to pass.
- Cognitive Symptoms. When you feel the physical sensations of a panic attack, your thoughts also work and start to make conclusions. For example, having chest pains lead you to think that you are having a heart attack and you might die, or you start to think that you are going crazy because of the fear and anxiety that you are feeling.
- Emotional Symptoms. In any panic attack the most prominent emotion is fear. You fear what may happen and you fear the outcome of your panic attack. Emotions, aside from fear, such as anger, revulsion, humiliation, disgrace, embarrassment and depression take center stage one after the other as the panic attack progresses and dies down.
- Behavioral Symptoms. Unconscious behavior often leads to the worsening of a panic attack. A good example is when you feel dizzy from getting up too quickly, a panic attack suddenly hits you and you then feel nauseous. Your hands become clammy and you feel chest pains. Instead of just sitting down and letting the panic attack pass, you unconsciously hold your breath or start breathing slowly that making you experience other physical sensations or enhance the symptoms you are currently feeling. All of this because of the initial dizzy feeling.
Because of these symptoms, having panic attacks develop a fear of another panic attack or fear of being in the same situation again, which slowly promotes agoraphobia.
Because of frequent and sudden panic attacks, a person can develop agoraphobia, the fear of being in a situation that may be embarrassing or the fear of having a panic attack. Because of a panic disorder or attack, the fears build up to the point that the fears escalate to being afraid of public places and situations where there are a lot of people or crowds. Some examples include fear of elevators, shopping malls, airplanes, taking public transportation, going to church, amusement parks and queues or lines of people. Because of these fears, the person with agoraphobia usually stays home and tends not to leave their comfort zone.
Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia
Now what does a panic attack or disorder coupled with agoraphobia do to you? Well there are several factors that surface when a panic attack occurs:
- Fear of dying. Actually, this fear of dying stems from the chest pains and shallow breathing that a person experiences during a panic attack. Although the feeling or sensation is there, the dying part will never come true because the person is just imagining the sensation and because of the unconscious behavior of holding his / her breath and contributing to the fear of dying.
- Fear of fainting. Faining happens when a person's blood pressure suddenly goes down and the blood is having difficulty bringing oxygen to the brain so the false spell. However, during a panic attack the blood pressure does exactly the opposite; it rises and can not cause false.
- Fear of public humiliation. The fear that people will laugh at you or think of you as acting weird or the fear of fainting in front of a crowd all adds up to this fear of public humiliation. Although this will not happen because a person having a panic attack does not really show it physically and the false can never happen, still the fear remains and pushes a person into seclusion.
- Fear of going crazy. The fear of going crazy is there but it can never happen because a person having a panic attack is always aware of this fear or situation, they always over it after the attack has finished. Panicking or being anxious will not lead to any mental disorder but will only again add up to a person becoming phobic.
Sometimes, this is what panic disorder and agoraphobia can do to you: it can make you a recluse, a hermit and phobic such that you give up the enjoyment that you can get from life. “It is a complicated and serious combination” says Mike Karowski, author of 'Perfectly Panic Free', “and one that needs immediate attention.”