|The reason having
a panic disorder is so uncomfortable, other than the symptoms
mentioned, is the unpredictability associated with these attacks.
Panic attacks can occur at all times of day, even during sleep.
Most attacks are brief, reaching their height within 10 minutes.
However, the symptoms associated with the disorder can last
much longer and are more varied. This disorder is usually accompanied
by other issues such as substance use or depression and can
also lead to intentional avoidance of places, people or things
where panic attacks have occurred prior.
An extreme example is, if a car cuts you off while driving on
the freeway you may stop using the freeway or stop driving altogether
because a panic attack ensued during the incident. If avoidance
is used, this could affect things where you go, how you get
there and cause you to be dependent on other people. In cases
like the one listed above, individuals restrict their activities
so much that they avoid everyday activities that are necessary
to for daily life. Or, they may be able to confront a feared
situation only if accompanied by a spouse or other trusted person.
Basically, these people avoid any situation in which they would
feel helpless if a panic attack were to occur. When people's
lives become so restricted, as happens in about one-third of
people with panic disorder, the condition is called agoraphobia.
Early treatment of panic disorder can often prevent agoraphobia.