Repeated episodes of fear commonly called panic attacks can be devastating. The panic attacks, or avoidance of them, can completely take control of your life.
Without treatment, you may continue to have panic attacks for years. The disorder can seriously interfere with your relationships with family, friends, and coworkers.
Without treatment, your life may become severely restricted. For example, you may start to avoid certain situations where you fear you will experience a panic attack- even normal, everyday activities, such as grocery shopping or driving. In extreme cases, people with untreated panic disorder grow afraid to leave the house a condition known as Agoraphobia. (Click to see more on agoraphobia).
Without treatment, you may find it difficult to be productive at work. Your symptoms may keep you from getting to your job or staying there once you arrive. You may turn down promotions or job assignments the you believe will make you more likely to have panic attacks. Some people with panic disorder even quit their jobs. Many can keep working, but otherwise rarely leave home.
Without treatment, you may become severely depressed. You may try unsuccessfully to numb the symptoms of panic disorder or depression with alcohol or other drugs. You may even begin to have thoughts of suicide.
You do not have to live this way. You need to know that panic disorder is treatable. In fact, proper treatment reduces or completely prevents panic attacks in 70 to 90 percent of people. Many people feel substantial relief in just weeks or months.
Unfortunately, some people are reluctant to pursue treatment. Perhaps they think their condition is not serious. Perhaps they feel embarrassed. They may blame themselves or have trouble asking for help. Perhaps they dislike the idea of medication or therapy. Or, maybe they have sought help but are frustrated because their condition was not diagnosed or treated effectively.
Do not let these or any reasons stop your from getting proper treatment. If you have panic disorder, you should get whatever help is necessary to overcome it, just as you would for any serious medical illness.
Do not be discouraged if some people say, “It’s nothing to worry about,” “It’s all in your head,” or “Snap out of it.” While they often mean well, the fact is that most people who do not have panic disorder do not understand that it is real and, therefore, tend to doubt its seriousness.
Most importantly, do not try to numb the effects of panic attacks with alcohol or other drugs. This will only make the problem worse.
Remember you can get better so please seek treatment as soon as possible. See the Treatment for Anxiety Disorders page for different treatment options.