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Panic Disorder

Despite the seriousness of this condition, some people still believe that panic attacks are “over-reactions” to intense situations. This is because they often occur as a result of depression, alcohol or drug abuse, typically. This is why some employers don’t consider panic disorder a real reason to grant their potentially affected employee with at least some immunity. This article is meant to inform you that we consider this disorder to be as serious, if not more, than the others we have seen in our clients.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, panic disorder is an illness that causes a patient to experience attacks of terror, commonly causing a pounding heart, dizziness, sweatiness, or weakness. Patients will often say they have a feeling of impending doom, or a fear of losing their sanity during these panic attacks. However, having a panic attack doesn’t mean you have panic disorder. Although this condition affects millions of Americans, having a panic attack may occur randomly, and never again afterwards. If attacks are consistent though, it debilitates a patient, making them scared to do things they normally would, as a result of a panic attack possibly happening. If this is the case, then immediate treatment is recommended, since Agoraphobia, or a fear of open places, may develop.

Symptoms for this condition include, oddly enough, a fear of the unknown physical symptoms in a patient. He or she will not be able to understand what is happening during the attack, and since a fear of this occurs as a panic attack is occurring, it could actually induce further attacks, or be mistaken for other medical problems; many people with panic disorder, for instance, fear having heart problems since the symptoms mimic a heart attack. In between these events, a patient will usually become extremely fearful, or intensely dread the next attack. Although this condition doesn’t develop until late adolescence or early adulthood, people over or under that age range can still be susceptible to a panic attack.

This condition can be hereditary. Most of the time, with someone under the typical age range of this condition’s onslaught, someone in their immediate or extended family also experiences, or has experienced, panic attacks.

Thankfully, this is one of the most treatable anxiety disorders. A doctor will most likely tell you that a specialist would be able to help you, such as a psychologist, or psychiatrist. Medications are also prescribed, but they usually take a couple weeks to start working. There is certainly no cure for this condition, but patients often say that a counselor, or psychologist, etc. helps them understand all aspects of the attacks that are occurring.

Social Security evaluates disability cases essentially in one of two ways: either by comparing the claimant’s medical condition to a medical condition described in the “medical listing of impairments”, or in the commonsense way of evaluating the overall effect of the claimant’s symptoms on their ability to work.

Social Security defines “work” as an eight hour a day, five-day week endeavor. As in most Social Security Disability claims, the judge’s decision boils down to whether or not he or she believes that you can perform the basic functions of work (sitting, standing, walking, lifting, concentrating, interacting appropriately with people encountered in the workplace, etc.). The fact that a claimant can only perform these basic functions sporadically, but not consistently, is the basis for the large majority of successful Social Security Disability claims

If you believe that you deserve benefits as a result of panic disorder, don’t hesitate to call our office.

Some suggested articles for further reading:

1. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/panic-disorder-a-real-illness/panic-disorder.shtml

2. http://www.apa.org/topics/anxietyqanda.html

3. http://www.barackobama.com/issues/healthcare/

4. http://www.barackobama.com/issues/disabilities/