Politics, angry demonstrations, North Korea and terrorist attacks – who isn’t having a panic attack these days? Panic attacks are defined as a sudden feeling of acute and disabling anxiety leading to intense physical symptoms. Anybody who’s experienced them will agree that they felt like they were going die. A panic attack occurs without warning and can happen when you’re relaxed and watching TV, driving a familiar route home, shopping in your favorite store or during a peaceful sleep. Most occur when you are not actually experiencing any active stress so logically when you start feeling chest pains, shortness of breath, tremors, a feeling of impending doom, sweating and GI distress – your first instinct is to run to the emergency room. You feel like you’re going to lose control. A Panic Disorder is when someone gets repeated panic attacks. The fear of when your next attack will occur looms over you causing even more panic. This is called “anticipatory fear”. Having a panic disorder can be quite disabling and embarrassing to discuss with friends, family and co-workers. Many people with panic disorder begin to slowly change their daily routines and become more reclusive. If they drive over the Ben Franklin Bridge and have a panic attack, then they’ll stop driving to Jersey. If they’re at Acme and an attack comes on, they’ll leave their cart in the aisle and that may be their last grocery trip. If one hits them while they’re at Pat’s eating their cheesesteak, well that may mean the next visit will be to Geno’s…you get the picture. Interestingly panic disorder tends to run in families and scientists believe an area of the brain called the amygdala is where the problem begins. The amygdala is the brain’s center for emotional behavior and motivation but is best known for its role in fear and aggression (fight or flight). Neuroimaging has shown differences in certain areas of the brain when a panic attack is occurring. It’s believed that these people have defense mechanisms that malfunction and cause an over exaggeration of a threat, leading to panic. Having a panic disorder is like having high blood pressure or diabetes because it is a real medical condition. There are many things you and your doctor can do to control and stop these attacks using medication, different psychotherapies and alternative medicine. I have an MDVIP practice that allows me to have hour-long appointments with my patients. My appointments are never hurried and I have time to discuss my patient’s history and stress triggers as well as ruling out any other serious medical condition. My MDVIP office is an affordable concierge style practice that’s built on a health and wellness platform. Make an appointment for a complimentary meet and greet. Get your life back without panic attacks.