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Panic Disorder and Its Connection With Depression

Panic Disorder and Its Connection With Depression

There is a well-known link between anxiety disorders and depression. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this is because those with “anxiety disorders struggle with intense and uncontrollable feelings of anxiety, fear, worry, and/or panic,” which can interfere with their ability to experience joy in life. Panic disorder is one type of anxiety disorder that can uniquely inform distressing depressive episodes. 

If you are experiencing an anxiety disorder like panic disorder, it can be helpful to recognize your increased risk of developing depression. Likewise, it is essential to become familiar with effective treatment options for treating both anxiety and depression. Mindfuli offers virtual therapy options that can enhance your social, mental, and emotional wellness from the privacy of your home. 

What Is Panic Disorder?

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines panic disorder as a type of anxiety disorder that informs repeated, unexpected episodes of intense fear and worry. These episodes are also referred to as panic attacks. Panic attacks produce uncomfortable physical symptoms, including:

  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Abdominal distress

Similar to other anxiety disorders, panic disorder can create feelings of fear even when you are not in danger. This condition can range in severity. Some individuals with panic disorder experience severe panic attacks several times per day, while others may only experience panic attacks a few times per year. 

Do I Have Panic Disorder if I Experience Panic Attacks?

If you experience panic attacks, you may wonder whether or not you have panic disorder. It is important to understand that panic attacks can occur independently of panic disorder. In other words, panic attacks can also be a symptom of other mood disorders or substance use disorders (SUDs).

Still, leaving panic attacks unresolved can definitely increase your risk of developing panic disorder. Further, the NIMH highlights the following signs and symptoms of panic disorder:

  • Sudden and repeated panic attacks
  • Feeling out of control or experiencing impending doom during a panic attack
  • Increased worry about when your next panic attack will occur
  • Avoiding places where you have experienced a panic attack
  • Physical symptoms during a panic attack, such as chest pain or racing heart

What Is Depression?

Depression, or major depressive disorder, is a mood disorder that interferes with your ability to engage in daily activities. To be diagnosed with depression, symptoms must be present for at least two weeks. The NIMH highlights the following signs and symptoms of depression:

  • Persistent sadness
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Feelings of irritability
  • Decreased energy
  • Loss of interest in activities once found pleasurable
  • Difficulties sleeping
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Aches and pains without a clear cause

Panic Disorder and Co-Occurring Depression

According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, about “50% of patients with panic disorder ultimately experience an episode of major depression.” There are a few potential causes for the high prevalence of these co-occurring conditions. 

Untreated Conditions Can Inform the Development of One Another

One potential reason may be that the presence of one mental health condition can inform the development of another. This is because certain symptoms of mental health disorders, such as emotional dysregulation, exist deep within your brain. Leaving a mental health disorder untreated can inevitably increase your risk of developing a co-occurring condition.

Shared Symptoms and Risk Factors

Another possible explanation for the high prevalence of panic disorder and major depression is that both conditions share similar symptoms and risk factors. For example, frequent panic attacks may leave you feeling hopeless, which is a symptom of depression. Additionally, panic disorder and depression can both produce physical aches and pains. 

There is no one underlying cause for panic disorder or depression. Risk factors for both conditions can include:

  • Personal or family history of mental health conditions or substance abuse
  • Major life changes
  • Trauma
  • Unmanaged stress
  • Brain structure

Overcoming Panic Disorder and Depression with Mindfuli

Leaving panic disorder and depression untreated can produce detrimental consequences to your well-being and to your life. Eventually, your symptoms may worsen to the point of limiting your ability to get out of bed in the morning. If you are struggling with either or both conditions, it is vital to understand that support is available. Participating in therapy can help you learn to manage your symptoms and reduce the frequency and intensity of your panic attacks. It can also provide you with access to professional and peer support through both one-on-one and group therapy interventions. 

At Mindfuli, we offer virtual treatment for all mental health disorders and emotional problems, including panic disorder and depression. In addition, we offer therapeutic services to help you manage chronic health conditions, social isolation, and interpersonal conflict. Whatever you are struggling with, we have the knowledge, tools, and professional experience to help you heal.

In addition to participating in therapy, there are a variety of coping mechanisms that you can use to reduce your symptoms. For example, you can engage in mindfulness practices such as meditation to enhance your connection to the present moment. You can also practice breathing techniques to calm yourself during stressful situations and circumstances. Nevertheless, therapy will help you to explore these tools and more over the course of your healing journey. 

Panic disorder can cause you to experience uncontrollable symptoms of worry, panic, and helplessness. To no surprise, untreated panic disorder can inform the development of depression and depressive episodes. Although it may seem impossible to seek treatment, it may help to know you can participate in therapy from the comfort of your own home. The Mindfuli app will connect you to therapists and other treatment services to help you take hold of your mental and emotional health. Our team goes above and beyond to ensure the well-being of our clients. The therapeutic alliance is at the heart and soul of the care provided through Mindfuli. To learn more about our virtual therapy platform, call us at (866) 973-4415.

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