What Is Panic disorder?
When you experience panic attacks on a regular basis, this is known as panic disorder. Panic attacks are sudden feelings of extreme fear or discomfort that peaks within just a few minutes. A person suffering from a panic attack feels overwhelming fear and terror that occurs suddenly without any warning with no obvious cause. This may be accompanied by physical symptoms like sweating, racing heart, breathing troubles, etc. Typically, a panic attack may last for around 10-20 minutes but in other cases, it may last for more than an hour.
The symptoms of panic disorder usually appear in teens and adults under 25 years of age. If the person suffers from 4 or more panic attacks or lives in the fear of having a panic attack after just undergoing one, then he/she has a panic disorder.
Panic disorder can affect the quality of life. And, although the symptoms of a panic attack can be frightening and rather overwhelming, the symptoms can be managed and can improve with treatment.
What Are The Symptoms Of Panic disorder?
Common symptoms of panic disorder are:
- Palpitation or racing heart
- Feeling that you’re choking
- Dizziness, shortness of breath
- Nausea, Lightheadedness
- Trembling or shaking, shivering or chills
- Tightness or pain in the chest
- Intense fear that you may die
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
- A feeling of depersonalization (feeling detached from yourself) or derealisation (unreal feeling)
What Are The Causes Of Panic disorder?
The actual causes of panic disorder are not really known; however, some of the reasons for panic disorder may be:
- Linked to genetics
- Significant transitional occurrences in life that may create stress i.e. getting married, leaving college, having a baby, etc.
- Stressful situations such as loss of job, loss of a loved one, divorce, etc.
Panic attacks may also be caused due to physical and medical causes such as:
- Mitral valve prolapse
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Use of cocaine, caffeine, amphetamines and other stimulants.
- Withdrawal of medication
What Are The Things One Should Do To Manage Panic disorder?
- Maintain a regular schedule.
- Exercise can help to relieve stress and just 30 minutes of exercise in a day can help to bust stress and also prevent panic attacks.
- Get proper sleep as poor quality of sleep can cause stress, anxiety and panic attacks.
If you or someone in your family suffers from panic disorder:
- Be very supportive to prevent desperation and loneliness.
- Be patient and deal with the panic attacks patiently.
- Avoid negative thoughts and develop a positive outlook.
- Try and maintain a busy and active schedule to divert your mind.
What Are The Things One Should Avoid To Manage Panic disorder?
- Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking, as they make the symptoms of panic attacks worse.
- If a person is having a panic attack, don’t leave them alone.
- Avoid situations that trigger panic attacks.
- Do not skip meals and eat at regular intervals, as skipping meals can cause the sugar levels to get imbalanced and affect your mood adversely and trigger panic attacks.
- Never ignore the symptoms of a panic attack.
What Are The Best Foods For Panic disorder?
- Eat foods such as complex carbohydrates like whole grains, whole grain cereals, slices of bread, etc. that help to boost the production of serotonin that helps to calm the brain and reduce the symptoms of a panic attack.
- Eat protein in the morning, as this will give you energy and also stabilize your glucose levels and prevent panic attacks.
- Drink plenty of water and fluids to stay hydrated, as dehydration can trigger mood changes.
- Eat mood-boosting foods which are rich in as magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, B-vitamins and folate, tryptophan, low-glycemic foods as they help to reduce the symptoms of panic disorder.
- Foods like beef, liver, egg yolks oysters, cashew nuts, etc. are rich in zinc which helps to lower anxiety and stress.
- Fermented and probiotic foods such as yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, pickles, sauerkraut, etc. help to calm the brain and prevent panic disorder related symptoms.
- Consuming whole grains such as oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, barley, etc. help to keep the blood sugar levels stable, which helps in preventing panic attacks.
- Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt help to stabilize the blood sugar levels and they also contain tryptophan that produces chemicals that help to calm you.
- Vegetable and fruits are excellent sources of antioxidants and also help to regulate blood sugar levels, manage your mood and prevent panic attacks.
- Poultry and fish contain iron, zinc, and B-vitamins and help to anxiety and panic attack symptoms.
- Also, having fatty fish such as tuna, lake trout, salmon, halibut, etc. help to improve the brain functions and reduce symptoms associated with panic disorder.
What Are The Worst Foods For Panic disorder?
- Tea, coffee, sodas, chocolate, cold remedies, pain relievers, etc. contain caffeine that stimulates the central nervous system and contributes to the symptoms of panic disorder and worsens them.
- Avoid drinking alcohol increases the build-up of lactic acid and causes sugar fluctuations which can cause increased anxiety, irritability and worsen the symptoms of panic disorder.
- Avoid foods that contain monosodium glutamate such as meats, soups, Asian foods, frozen dinners, etc., as MSG can trigger panic attacks.
- Avoid sugar and refined sugar as it causes an imbalance in the blood sugar levels and causes lactic acid build-up which can cause mood disturbances and also trigger panic attacks.
- Avoid refined foods like baked foods like cookies, pastries, etc. fast foods, fried foods, processed grains, and meats, as these increase the blood sugar levels and cause mood swings, anxiety and also worsen the symptoms of panic disorder.
What Are The Medicines For Panic disorder?
What Are The Tips To Manage Panic disorder?
- Breathing techniques and deep breathing can help to relieve panic attack symptoms such as tightness in the chest lightheadedness, etc.
- Practicing relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, etc. help to promote relaxation and prevents anxiety and panic.
- Some home remedies for the treatment of panic disorder are:
- Ashwagandha, an adaptogen herb, is used as a natural remedy and helps to reduce stress and anxiety and also helps to prevent the symptoms of panic disorder.
- Kava root is a non-hypnotic, non-addictive anxiolytic which helps to reduce anxiety and improve mood. It helps to stimulate dopamine receptors in the brain and induces euphoria and reduces the symptoms of panic disorder.
- 5-hydroxytryptophan or 5-HTP helps to treat the symptoms associated with moodiness, anxiety, sleep troubles and also helps in panic disorder.
- GABA or gamma-aminobutyric acid helps to relax your muscles and decrease anxiety and relieve panic disorder symptoms.
- B vitamins can help to stabilize your mood and fight stress. It is a natural anxiety reliever and helps to reduce the symptoms caused by the panic disorder.
- Lavender oil helps you relax and also reduces anxiety and stress. Massaging 2-3 drops of lavender oil into your temples, wrist, and neck, diffusing it or adding 8-10 drops of the oil into your bath water can help to reduce panic disorder symptoms.