Panic Disorders


What causes panic disorders?

What are symptoms of panic disorders?

How are panic disorders treated?

A panic disorder can have a negative impact on your daily life and stop you from doing some of the things you love for fear of another panic attack. At Pacific Mind Health in Long Beach, California, the highly trained psychiatrists and skilled psychiatric nurse practitioners/physician assistants offer effective treatments to help you get your panic disorder under control and enter a calmer state of mind that’s more content, comfortable, and collected. If you’re having recurrent panic attacks, visit the Pacific Mind Health psychiatrists. Call or click to request your personal consultation online.

What is a panic attack?

A panic attack is a sudden overwhelming feeling of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there’s no apparent cause and no real danger present. Panic attacks can be frightening, and many people feel they’re losing control, having a heart attack, or even dying.
Most people only have a couple of panic attacks throughout their life, but some people experience a panic disorder — recurrent, unexpected panic attacks and constant fear of another attack.

What are the symptoms of a panic attack?

Symptoms usually peak within minutes and many people are left feeling exhausted and sick after a panic attack subsides. Symptoms of a panic attack can include:

  • Fear of loss of control or death
  • Rapid heavy heart rate
  • Sense of impending danger or doom
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Chills or hot flashes and sweating
  • Nausea and abdominal cramping
  • Chest pain and headaches
  • Numbness or a tingling sensation
  • Shortness of breath and tightness in the throat

Many people might also feel detached from reality during a panic attack. This is known as dissociation.

What causes panic attack?

​It isn’t clear what causes panic attacks or panic disorder, but certain contributing factors include:

  • Major stress
  • Genetics
  • Changes in the functioning of certain parts of the brain
  • Temperament that’s more sensitive to stress or more prone to negative emotions
  • Family history of panic attacks or panic disorder
  • A traumatic life event, such as an assault or serious accident
  • Excess tobacco smoking
  • Excess caffeine intake
  • History of childhood abuse

Some experts are researching the involvement of your body’s natural fight-or-flight response to danger.

How can I manage my panic attack?

While panic attacks aren’t usually dangerous, they can be difficult to manage on your own. The support and guidance of a trained psychiatrist can be especially beneficial.

During your psychological evaluation with Dr. Flatow or Dr. Thomas, you discuss your symptoms, fears or concerns, any relationship problems, stressful situations, family history, and anything else of relevance to your panic attacks.

Your psychiatrist might recommend treatments, such as psychotherapy, medications like SSRIs and SNRIs, anti-anxiety medication, or a combination of treatment methods for best results. Psychotherapy can help you to understand your panic attacks and learn how to cope with them.

​It’s also helpful to stay physically active; get sufficient sleep; avoid alcohol, smoking, and other recreational drugs; and manage your stress with techniques like mindfulness and yoga.

For empathetic, individualized care managing your panic attacks,