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Panic Disorder at Grace Health Services in Stafford, Ruther Glen, VA and Washington, DC.

Panic disorder is a challenging mental health condition that can significantly affect an individual's quality of life. It is characterized by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear, accompanied by physical symptoms. Understanding, diagnosing, and effectively managing this disorder is crucial for those affected.

​Panic Disorder

Symptoms & signs of Panic Disorder

Panic attacks typically begin suddenly, without warning. They can strike at any time when you're driving a car, at the mall, sound asleep or in the middle of a business meeting. You may have occasional panic attacks, or they may occur frequently.

Panic attacks have many variations, but symptoms usually peak within minutes. You may feel fatigued and worn out after a panic attack subsides.

Panic attacks typically include some of these signs or symptoms:

  • Sense of impending doom or danger

  • Fear of loss of control or death

  • Rapid, pounding heart rate

  • Sweating

  • Trembling or shaking

  • Shortness of breath or tightness in your throat

  • Chills

  • Hot flashes

  • Nausea

  • Abdominal cramping

  • Chest pain

  • Headache

  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or faintness

  • Numbness or tingling sensation

  • Feeling of unreality or detachment

One of the worst things about panic attacks is the intense fear that you'll have another one. You may fear having panic attacks so much that you avoid certain situations where they may occur.

The exact origins of panic attacks and panic disorder are still a bit of a mystery, but certain elements are thought to play a key role:

  • Genetic Influence: Family history may have a hand in it.

  • Significant Stressors: High levels of stress can be a trigger.

  • Personality Traits: If you're naturally more sensitive to stress or lean towards negative emotions, you might be more susceptible.

  • Brain Function Alterations: There are indications that changes in certain brain functions could contribute.

Initially, panic attacks can strike out of the blue, but over time, they often start getting linked to specific situations.

Understanding the Root Causes of Panic Attacks and Panic Disorder

​Risk factors ​Panic Disorder

Risk factors

Symptoms of panic disorder often start in the late teens or early adulthood and affect more women than men.

Factors that may increase the risk of developing panic attacks or panic disorder include:

  • Family history of panic attacks or panic disorder

  • Major life stress, such as the death or serious illness of a loved one

  • A traumatic event, such as sexual assault or a serious accident

  • Major changes in your life, such as a divorce or the addition of a baby

  • Smoking or excessive caffeine intake

  • History of childhood physical or sexual abuse

​Prevention ​Panic Disorder


There's no sure way to prevent panic attacks or panic disorder. However, these recommendations may help.

  • Get treatment for panic attacks as soon as possible to help stop them from getting worse or becoming more frequent.

  • Stick with your treatment plan to help prevent relapses or worsening of panic attack symptoms.

  • Get regular physical activity, which may play a role in protecting against anxiety.

Let’s get you the care you deserve!

​Our certified providers at Grace Health Services in VA & D.C. are dedicated to understanding and treating a variety of mental health challenges. Drawing from both modern research and years of hands-on experience, we aim to provide nothing but the finest care from the moment of diagnosis.

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