Around 6,000 people in Cornwall will have a fairly severe type of anxiety called panic disorder. What is panic disorder? Imagine for a moment, if you can, that it is possible that you will have an experience of utter dread and fear whenever you venture far from the house. Furthermore, you believe that, if this happens to you, then you will need to escape as fast as you can and flee to the safety of your home. The prospect of being ‘stuck’ in a place without being able to escape is something to be avoided at all costs because you believe the experience will be dangerous, awful and that you will lose control. Therefore you feel you must stay ‘on guard’, and to always be prepared to run for safety should you sense it starting to creep up on you. Wherever you go, you try to check out all of the exits and ensure that they are close to hand. You also avoid trips by plane, bus or train, because in the middle of a journey there is little chance of escape. Your life becomes dominated by avoidance.
This scenario will be familiar for sufferers of panic disorder. Not surprisingly, the main feature of panic disorder is the fear of having a panic attack. Panic attacks are powerful experiences of extreme anxiety and dread. They can happen without warning and people’s lives therefore become dominated by avoidance and the need to stay safe.
The good news is that panic disorder responds really well to psychological therapy. Ironically though, the hardest part is for people to seek help; they fear being out of control and will often want to avoid it. This is a shame, because treatment for many people can be very successful.
For NHS funded therapy for stress, anxiety or depression, phone (01208) 871905 or register online [HERE].