Complications of Panic disorder


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About complications: Complications of Panic disorder are secondary conditions, symptoms, or other disorders that are caused by Panic disorder. In many cases the distinction between symptoms of Panic disorder and complications of Panic disorder is unclear or arbitrary.

Complications list for Panic disorder: The list of complications that have been mentioned in various sources for Panic disorder includes:

Complications of Panic disorder: Some people’s lives become greatly restricted -- they avoid normal everyday activities such as grocery shopping, driving, or, in some cases, even leaving the house. Or they may be able to confront a feared situation only if accompanied by a spouse or other trusted person. Basically, they avoid any situation they fear that would make them feel helpless if a panic attack occurs. When people’s lives become so restricted by the disorder, as happens in about one-third of all people with panic disorder, the condition is called agoraphobia. A tendency toward panic disorder and agoraphobia runs in families. Nevertheless, early treatment of panic disorder can often stop the progression of agoraphobia. 1

Many people with panic disorder develop intense anxiety between episodes. It is not unusual for a person with panic disorder to develop phobias about places or situations where panic attacks have occurred, such as in supermarkets or other everyday situations. As the frequency of panic attacks increases, the person often begins to avoid situations where they fear another attack may occur or where help would not be immediately available. This avoidance may eventually develop into agoraphobia, an inability to go beyond known and safe surroundings because of intense fear and anxiety. 2

About 1 in 3 people with panic disorder develop agoraphobia, a condition in which they become afraid of being in any place or situation where escape might be difficult or help unavailable in the event of a panic attack. 3

People with agoraphobia can be seriously disabled by their condition. Some are unable to work, and they may need to rely heavily on other family members, who must do the shopping and run all the household errands, as well as accompany the affected person on rare excursions outside the "safety zone." Thus the person with agoraphobia typically leads a life of extreme dependency as well as great discomfort. 4

Footnotes:
1. excerpt from Panic Disorder: NWHIC
2. excerpt from Facts about Panic Disorder: NIMH
3. excerpt from The Numbers Count: NIMH
4. excerpt from Understanding Panic Disorder: NIMH

Last revision: July 1, 2003

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