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Panic Disorder

Hemanjani Gonchigar, MD -  - Psychiatrist

Capital Area Psychiatric Services

Hemanjani Gonchigar, MD

Psychiatrist located in Vienna, VA

Almost 5% of women and men in the United States experience at least one panic attack at some point in their lives, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health. If you experience the intense fear and chest pain, or dizziness of panic attacks, Hemanjani Gonchigar, MD, at Capital Area Psychiatric Services (CAPS) in Vienna, Virginia, helps you manage and prevent symptoms. Contact the helpful and knowledgeable staff at CAPS for panic disorder evaluation and treatment by phoning the office or using the online form.

Panic Disorder Q & A

What is panic disorder?

Panic disorder is a mental health condition that feels like a physical condition. If you get panic attacks, you have episodes where you feel completely out of control and may believe that you’re having a heart attack or are dying. You may just have one or two panic attacks during a period of extreme emotional stress, or chronic panic attacks may plague you.

What are the symptoms of panic disorder?

During a panic attack, your body reacts as if it’s under serious threat. Symptoms could include:

  • Sense of impending doom
  • Feeling threatened
  • Rapidly pounding heart
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Sweating
  • Having trouble breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Abdominal cramping or nausea
  • Hot flashes or chills

Panic attacks can strike without warning, even when you’re driving a car. Once you have a panic attack, even the thought of having another one can trigger a panic attack. After a panic attack, you may feel fatigued and depleted.

Why do I have panic disorder?

You may be prone to panic attacks if you experience extreme trauma or a stressful event, such as a sexual assault or a car accident. However, actual threats rarely trigger panic attacks themselves. Instead, your brain and body suddenly go into a fight-or-flight mode that brings on the attack.

Genetics and brain function may both be involved in panic attacks. You may also be more at risk for panic disorder if you’re sensitive to stress or have habitually negative thoughts and feelings.

Are panic attacks serious?

Panic disorder can dampen your quality of life. If you don’t treat your panic disorder, you may develop complications such as:

  • Agoraphobia (i.e., fear of public places)
  • Avoiding friends and family
  • Having trouble at school or work
  • Financial problems
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Hypochondria

Some women, men, and teens with panic attacks try to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs, leading to further problems. If you think about harming yourself, call 911, go to the nearest emergency room, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

How do psychiatrists treat panic disorder?

Dr. Gonchigar at Capital Area Psychiatric Services takes an integrative approach to panic disorders. She helps you learn behavioral techniques to manage attacks and prescribes medications to keep you calm. She may also suggest therapy and journaling to identify possible triggers.

If you have panic attacks, contact Capital Area Psychiatric Services to get help. Call the friendly office team or use the online appointment form.