Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder. Anxiety is a general term encompassing a variety of types of mental disorders. Anxiety is the most common mental illness in the present day. It can include things like social anxiety, generalized anxiety, panic disorder, or others.
Generalized anxiety tends to refer to a build-up of anxious emotions and thoughts over a period of time, sometimes resulting in anxiety attacks. An anxiety attack is a lot like a panic attack, except a panic attack doesn’t build up over time, instead hitting suddenly.
I myself have panic disorder. This became apparent when I was a sophomore in high school, during and after a severe psychotic episode lasting several months. I would always be a little on edge, of course, but it was manageable until a sudden hit of extreme anxiety and fear came on. This would be accompanied by intrusive thoughts and feelings of absolute terror, seemingly triggered by nothing.
I remember being hit with it during my first class of the day, the second, the third – any of them, at any time, unpredictably. I would be unable to be in class, instead going to the nurse’s office, since there was nowhere else to go. I’d sit in there in the dark, curled up in a ball, pulling at my hair, crying until I couldn’t breathe, just trying to make the thoughts and feelings stop. It never worked until they decided they were done. Afterwards, I would feel so numb and empty that I could hardly move, and forget about thinking anything. I would be so dissociated that nothing could change that. I’d go home eventually.
There were days when I wasn’t able to even go to the school. This was mostly due to the depression and psychosis, but sometimes I would just wake up too panicked to leave the house, or even my bed.
The first medication I was prescribed for mental health that still works to this day was for my panic disorder. Gabapentin, usually prescribed for some types of nerve disorders, I think. I’ve been taking it for approximately 7 years now. I’m on a high dosage throughout the day, and I notice if I miss a single dose. I hate to imagine what it would be like if I didn’t have it.
Some of my most recent symptoms due to missing doses are extreme irritability and fear. I missed a dose a while back and got into a fight with my brother, which never happens. We don’t lose our tempers with each other. But that fear and irritability caused me to raise my voice and speak with no constraint. It happens to the best of us.
Anxiety is slower to build up, though it can be just as severe and debilitating. These anxiety disorders can destroy personal relationships, and I assume that also means it could destroy professional relationships as well. It can be personally distressing, to say the least. Anxiety disorders are no joke and should be taken seriously. When having an episode, people don’t always react the same as they would otherwise.