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Living with an Anxiety Disorder

Managing Life with Panic Disorder

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Updated February 27, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

At times, living with panic disorder can be difficult to manage. Your condition can impact your relationships, career aspirations, and personal goals. But through treatment, support of loved ones, and a personal commitment to building your coping strategies, you can successfully live with panic disorder symptoms.

Don’t let panic disorder dictate how you can live your life. The following describes ways to effectively manage life with panic disorder.

Coping Versus Curing

If you or a loved has been diagnosed with panic disorder, you may be wondering about the causes of this condition. While the exact cause of panic disorder is unknown, there are several theories that examine the impact of different factors. For example, some theories suggest that panic disorder is largely due to genetic factors, while other theories propose that biological, psychological, developmental and environmental influences lead to the vulnerability to develop panic disorder symptoms. Most professionals who treat panic disorder take on a multidimensional view, assuming that panic disorder stems from a combination of factors.

Aside from questioning the causes of this condition, you may also be curious about potential cures for panic disorder. Unfortunately, panic disorder cannot be entirely cured, but it can be significantly managed so that it is no longer impairing your quality of life. Panic disorder symptoms often vary from person to person, and every individual responds differently to various treatment approaches, making it impossible to find one treatment option that will work for all panic sufferers. Your panic disorder symptoms may never be cured, but you can more successfully live this condition when you learn what coping skills work best for you.

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Getting the Help You Need

Managing life with panic disorder often begins by getting a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan. The search for help typically starts with an appointment with your medical doctor or family physician, who will be able to evaluate your symptoms, rule out other potential mental health or medical conditions, provide you with an accurate diagnosis, and review your treatment options.

Your doctor may also refer you to a mental health specialist, such as a psychiatrist or professional clinical counselor, who can further evaluate your condition and provide you with therapeutic services. A psychiatrist may prescribe medication for panic disorder to help reduce feelings of anxiety or managing panic attacks. Psychotherapy is also often recommended to assist in developing coping techniques, dealing with negative emotions, and changing unwanted behaviors. Getting the help you need to deal with your symptoms can allow you to successfully live with panic disorder.

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Managing Your Stress and Anxiety

Stress is an inevitable issue that we all face from time to time, but stress can be even more challenging when you're also living with an anxiety disorder. Stress can lead to feelings of increased anxiety, and may even trigger panic disorder symptoms. But by learning ways to reduce your stress, dealing with life with panic disorder can become a little easier.

Stress management techniques are activities that are geared towards making you feel more calm and relaxed. Relaxation exercises are stress management techniques that can help you let go of tension throughout your body and mind. Common relaxation exercises include deep breathing techniques, visualization, and progressive muscle relaxation (PMR). Stress can also be reduced through other common self-care activities, such as exercising, engaging in a favorite hobby, or spending time with friends and family.

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Building Your Support Network

Living with panic disorder can feel like a lonely and isolating experience; you may, for example, feel that others do not understand the challenges you're faced with. Friends and family may try to empathize, but find it difficult to relate to your experience. Even though you may feel lonely at times, it's important that you work towards building a support network to more positively live with panic disorder.

Support can be found through professional help, loved ones that you can confide in, and others who can relate to your experience. Trusted friends and family can be very helpful, especially if you have clearly communicated to them about your condition. Additionally, support can be found through group therapy or online forums that consist of others who are faced with panic disorder and many similar challenges that go along with this condition.

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Handling Panic Disorder Stigma

There are also many misunderstandings about panic disorder that can impact your relationships. For example, some friends or coworkers may believe that panic disorder is a sign of weakness, or that you're just overreacting when you have panic attacks. The truth is that you may never be able to rid the world of misconceptions about mental illness, but you can learn to develop healthy relationships despite the stigma of your condition.

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  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Panic Disorder
  4. Coping
  5. Living with an Anxiety Disorder - Managing Life with Panic Disorder

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