Fear neurosis or panic disorder is a condition characterized by periodic attacks of panic, often for no apparent or tangible reason.

Every person experiences a feeling of anxiety and panic at certain times in their life. This is a natural response to stressful or threatening situations.

But in people with panic disorder, the feeling of anxiety, stress and panic occurs frequently or intermittently and constantly.

Anxiety is a feeling of worry. It can vary in intensity and may be accompanied by feelings of anxiety and fear.

There are several conditions that can become a cause of serious concern, for example:

Phobias – extreme or irrational fear of an object, place, situation, sensation or animal;
Generalized Anxiety Disorder – a chronic condition that causes sensations for severe anxiety and worry in various situations;
Post-traumatic stress disorder – a condition with psychological and physical symptoms due to stressful or terrifying events;

What are the symptoms?

Clinical manifestations are usually very frightening and worrying, both for the affected person and for the people around him. Symptoms appear suddenly without any preceding signs and often without any reason.

In addition to an overwhelming feeling of anxiety, panic attacks can also cause a variety of other symptoms such as:

• Sensation that the heart beats irregularly – palpitations, each irregular heartbeat being a cause for great anxiety;
• Sweating;
• Trembling;
• Chills;
• Shortness of breath;
• Sensation of suffocation;
• Chest pain;
• Nausea and dizziness;
• Weakness;
• Numbness or tingling sensation;
• Dry mouth;
• Feeling of needing to pass stool or urinate;
• Ringing in the ears;
• General feeling of dread or fear from the onset of death;
• Numbness of the fingers;
• Hot flushes;
• Sensation of chills;

The physical symptoms of a panic attack are unpleasant and may be accompanied by thoughts and feelings of fear and dread.

For this reason, affected people may begin to fear the next panic attack and thus fall into a vicious cycle of ‘fear of fear’, which adds to the overall feeling of panic.

Sometimes panic attacks can be so strong that they can make the sufferer feel like they are having an acute myocardial infarction.

Treatment of fear neurosis

There are two main available treatment methods – medication and cognitive behavioral therapy. Both therapies have good success rates and are equally effective and can be chosen based on patient preference.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy consists of 5 stages:

Education – in the first stage, the therapist explains all aspects of the disease to the patient and teaches him how to easily recognize the symptoms and outlines a treatment plan;

Observation – in the next stage, the psychologist instructs the patient to keep a diary in which he describes panic and anxiety attacks and records situations that induce the conditions;

Breathing – the therapist teaches the patient to use relaxation techniques to combat physical reactions during a panic attack;

Reframing – the therapist helps the patient change his interpretation of the physical symptoms of panic attacks from catastrophizing to realistic;

Exposure to seizure-provoking situations – with the help of the therapist, the patient is confronted with situations that provoke the fearful physical symptoms in his imagination, gradually increasing the intensity of these manifestations.

Medical treatment most often consists of oral antidepressants and benzodiazepines, as well as other types of medication that have proven effective over time.

With appropriate psychiatric treatment, people with panic disorder can recover and return to their normal lifestyles.

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