Throughout the history of our species, fear has played a central role in keeping us safe and helping us survive.
Our cave-dwelling ancestors relied on fear to tell them when lions and tigers were lurking nearby, or when members of a warring tribe were on their way.
Without a strong fear impulse, our ancient ancestors would not have lived long enough to reproduce, and over time the fear centers in the brain became deeply ingrained into our very being.
When everything is in balance fear helps to keep us safe but does not interfere with our lives. In some cases, however, that fear impulse is able to get out of control, creating situations that can cause harmless everyday activities to seem like life threatening events.
That out of control fear is at the heart of panic disorder, an illness that affects millions of people and can turn their lives, and the lives of their loved ones, upside down.
If you or someone you care about suffers from panic disorder, you know how debilitating the condition can be. When in the midst of a panic attack, the individual may literally feel that they are dying.
In some cases the symptoms of a panic attack can be mistaken for those of a heart attack, and it is not unusual for panic attack sufferers to seek treatment at local emergency rooms, only to find that everything is fine from a physical perspective.
That is because the factors that cause panic disorder are lodged deep within the brain, and that is where they must be treated. The treatment options for panic attack sufferers are varied, and not all will be equally effective for every individual.