What is Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia?
Panic Attacks are defined as discrete periods of intense fear or discomfort that are accompanied by at least four of the following thirteen symptoms:
- palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
- trembling or shaking
- sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
- feeling of choking
- chest pain or discomfort
- nausea or abdominal distress
- feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded or faint
- derealization (feeling of unreality) or depersonalization (feeling detached from oneself)
- fear of losing control or going crazy
- fear of dying
- parathesias (numbness or tingling sensations)
- chills or hot flushes
Panic Attacks can occur within the context of any of the anxiety disorders, but when the focus of attention is upon the panic attack itself you may have Panic Disorder.
Panic Disorder is characterized by recurrent unexpected Panic Attacks followed by at least one month of persistent concern about having additional attacks and worry about the implications of having the attacks. Typical worries might be fear of losing control, having a heart attack or going crazy.
Panic Disorder can be accompanied by Agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is fear of being in any situation from which escape might be difficult or embarrassing or in which it might be difficult to get help if something were to go wrong. These situations are either avoided completely or are endured with marked distress. Typical situations that might bother someone with Agoraphobia include being outside the home alone, standing in a line, crossing bridges or riding in buses, trains or cars.
Recommended Books to Help with Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia
The following books are recommended for those who suffer from Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia or for family and friends of those suffering. You may purchase these books at your local bookseller, or click on the links below to purchase them from Amazon.com.1
Elke Zuercher-White, Ph.D.
Written by Dr. Zuercher-White who works in our Center, this book has been awarded The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies Self-Help Seal of Merit — an award bestowed on outstanding self-help books that are consistent with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) principles and that incorporate scientifically tested strategies for overcoming mental health difficulties. Used alone or in conjunction with therapy, the book offers powerful tools readers can use to jump-start changes in their lives.
C. Alec Pollard, Ph.D. & Elke Zuercher-White, Ph.D.
Co-authored by Dr. Zuercher-White who works in our Center, The book offers clear information about how the disorder develops and a practical, step-by-step treatment strategy you can use to control specific fears and symptoms. In an interactive, easy-to-follow style, the workbook takes you through exposure and desensitization exercises. By taking it step-by-step, you can work up to formerly difficult tasks like walking outside, driving, taking public transportation, and going to stores and malls. The book also includes tips on avoiding relapses, managing setbacks, and finding help and support.
1The Anxiety and Panic Treatment Center receives a small portion of the purchase price of books ordered through Amazon which helps support this web site.