Anxiety and Panic
If a fear is very prominent and interferes with your life, you have an anxiety or panic disorder.
You often panic (even without cause) and in between you are constantly afraid of having another panic attack. The fear of a panic attack can take over your life. A panic disorder can last for several years. Periods with many and few complaints alternate.
- Anxiety disorders are more common in some families. Heredity plays a role.
- You could say that one is more vulnerable than the other.
- Certain substances (neurotransmitters) are thought to affect a person's susceptibility to fear or panic. Neurotransmitters are in everyone's blood and nervous system.
- The way in which a person deals with fear also seems to some extent learned. Education and past experiences play a role in this.
- Some people get the feeling that they can't handle the situation when they experience symptoms of anxiety, such as palpitations and shortness of breath. As a result, fear increases and they panic.
- Substances such as caffeine can amplify the physical symptoms of anxiety. This can trigger a panic attack in some people.
Some people are more likely to have panic disorder. For example:
- people who live alone
- people without work
- people with little income
- people with a lower education
- people who are (or have been) depressed
- people with an addiction problem
- people who have experienced a very violent event (psychotrauma)
It is not always clear whether the panic disorder is the cause or the result of the above points. For example, you can develop a panic disorder because you are out of work. But you can't work either, precisely because you have a panic disorder.
Anxiety complaints are generally treatable. Together with your therapist you look at what makes you feel anxious and when. Together we critically check whether the thoughts are correct and realistic. Then we look at which thoughts make your mood positive. In this way you become aware of the fear and the fear will slowly fade.
Your treatment may consist of:
- individual therapy;
- family therapy;
- group therapy;
- relaxation therapy;
You will receive an explanation about the complaints and how unhelpful thoughts can ensure that you continue to feel bad. You will also learn how to convert unhelpful thoughts into helpful thoughts. You will also receive information about how to relax better.
Sometimes (temporary) antidepressants or a sedative are prescribed in combination with therapy. These can reduce anxiety and clear up the highs and lows in mood. However, medication is only prescribed when it is really necessary.