Is it possible to have other illnesses as well as Panic Disorder?

Yes. People who suffer from Panic Disorder often suffer from Depression, Social Anxiety Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and drug or alcohol abuse. If you have feelings of intense sadness, a lack of enjoyment in normal activities, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, be sure to tell your doctor.

There are treatments that can treat both Panic Disorder and its associated disorders. Alcohol or drug abuse can also be managed with different types of therapy such as counselling or self-help groups.

A word about Depression

We all get "depressed" from time-to-time. Most often these feelings are short-lived and our moods improve when things change. We get back to being our "old selves".

Yet for many people, the symptoms of depression are more severe and last much longer. Depression is very different from "feeling down" or "having the blues". If left untreated for long periods, Depression can seriously affect sleep patterns, appetite, energy levels, and physical well-being. Negative thoughts, a sense of helplessness or hopelessness, and always feeling sad, are symptoms of people suffering from Depression.

Some things to look for if you think you may be suffering from Depression are:

• Changes in your mood: you are bothered by small things, feel sad all the time or take less pleasure in things you once enjoyed.

• Changes in your physical well-being: increase or decrease in appetite and weight, trouble sleeping or waking up, low energy levels, lack of motivation, headaches, or general aches and pains.

• Changes in your thought patterns: negative thoughts, trouble concentrating or paying attention, feelings of helplessness or hopelessness, guilt or pessimism.

People with Panic Disorder often become depressed because the fear of experiencing another panic attack limits their ability to enjoy the every day pleasures that we often take for granted, like meeting a friend for coffee.

Fortunately, there are medications that can treat both Panic Disorder and Depression. Talk to your doctor about treatments that can help you overcome the symptoms of these illnesses.

A word about Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)

It is almost impossible to go through a single day without seeing or talking to another person. But for the thousands of people suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder the thought of having to interact with others is frightening. Those suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder are afraid that they may do or say something "stupid" in front of others. They often avoid eating, drinking or writing in public places because of the fear that they will do something to embarrass themselves. Social Anxiety Disorder patients often go out of their way to avoid many different social situations. They often experience a great deal of anxiety prior to a known upcoming social or public event, which often leads to irrational thoughts about losing control, which in turn, causes them to fear the situation even more.

It is not uncommon for people with Social Anxiety Disorder to have panic attacks when they are forced to perform in social situations, this can lead to the eventual development of Panic Disorder.

It is also possible for people with Panic Disorder to develop Social Anxiety Disorder. Because of their fear of panic attacks, people with Panic Disorder may soon avoid any and all places that they believe will cause them to have a panic attack. Often people with Panic Disorder become fearful of different social settings because they fear that a panic attack will make them look "stupid" in front of others.

A word about Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a serious psychiatric disorder that affects thousands of people each year. In fact, in any given year 5% of the population can expect to suffer from PTSD. Although, once thought to only occur in war veterans, we now understand that PTSD can develop in anyone who has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, such as being in a car accident.

1 out of 2 people will experience at least one traumatic event in their lifetime.

Although we all deal with traumatic events differently, many people do not suffer any adverse effects from a traumatic event. However there are people who will experience or witness a traumatic event and continue to re-experience the event over and over again, sometimes for months or years. They may begin to avoid situations or conversations that remind them of the traumatic event. They may have problems getting to sleep or staying asleep. They often startle easily and may seem "overly" alert like they are anticipating another traumatic event. For these people the trauma never seems to end - they have PTSD.

It is not uncommon for a person with PTSD to experience panic attacks when they are confronted with something that reminds them of their traumatic event.

A word about Drug and Alcohol Abuse

People with Panic Disorder often turn to drugs and alcohol in the vain attempt to relieve the pain and fear they experience as a result of their illness. About 30 percent of patients abuse alcohol and about 17 percent abuse other drugs. It is important to understand that drugs and alcohol often make the anxiety even worse. The long-term effects of drug or alcohol abuse can also be very damaging to your health and well-being. It can also be disruptive to family, friends and other relationships.

When talking to your doctor, be honest about any drug or alcohol use. Drugs and alcohol can seriously affect the treatment your doctor will prescribe for you and can lead to dangerous side-effects.

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