Anxiety Panic Attacks Panic Disorder

Anxiety, Panic Attacks and Panic Disorder – Part 3/6 What is Panic Disorder

Sherry-Lee Smith

Registered Psychologist

Perth, Western Australia

What is Panic Disorder?

Panic disorder is one of the most common mental health issues. When a person has recurrent unexpected panic attacks they may have what is known as Panic Disorder. However most individuals with panic disorder experience both expected and unexpected panic attacks. Sufferers of this disorder often have worries that the symptoms of panic are caused by life-threatening conditions such as heart attacks or strokes, or worry they might have a seizure, faint, stop breathing, lose control, collapse or even die. Unfortunately, thoughts of this type often exacerbate the panic response and make it more difficult for the person to manage the ensuing anxiety.

Individuals with panic disorder persistently worry about having more panic attacks or what might happen as a consequence of having another panic attack. They may have worries about illnesses, being embarrassed or judged negatively by other people. Sometimes they have concerns about going crazy or losing control.

In response to these worries individuals with panic disorder will change they behaviour to avoid panic attacks or minimise the chances of having a panic attack. Some people will avoid exercise, restructure their lives so that they don’t have to visit places that are anxiety provoking, or ensuring help is always available or nearby (i.e. a doctor or significant other). This can significantly impact a person’s ability to live a functional and product life. Furthermore, although these changes in behaviour temporarily reduce anxiety, over time they reinforce the fear of having more panic attacks.

The severity of symptoms in panic disorder often wax and wane overtime. If left untreated panic disorder is most often a chronic condition which reduces a person’s quality of life. It is important to seek professional help if you think you or someone you care about has panic disorder.

If you are experiencing any difficulties with anxiety, panic attacks or other mental health issues and would like help please contact Sherry-Lee Smith on 042 135 1020 or

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Mt Lawley Counselling Centre

13 Alvan St

Mt Lawley, Perth Western Australia 6050

Sherry-Lee Smith

Registered Psychologist

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