Surviving Panic Disorder
By Stuart Shipko, M.D.
Copyright 2011 Stuart Shipko, M.D.
In 1836 after finishing a 5-year scientific excursion to South America and the Pacific, Charles Darwin, returned to England to find himself almost housebound. Doctors could not find a diagnosis for Darwin’s problems that included an overwhelming sensation of fear, palpitations, weakness and muscle tremor that overcame him whenever he left home. After making a rare speech at a scientific meeting he was reported to have had 24 hours of vomiting. Remarking on his response to stress, The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, cites Darwin having written, " ... of late anything which flurries me completely knocks me up afterwards, and brings on violent palpitation of the heart."
Darwin probably had panic disorder. Today, he would not have had to suffer as he did, however it is likely that he would need to be an informed consumer of healthcare to get proper treatment.
I am a board certified psychiatrist who specializes in panic disorder. Over the last twenty years I have personally examined and treated well over 2,000 patients with panic disorder. In 1996 I put up the Panic Disorders Institute (PDI) web site. Besides presenting basic information on panic disorder, the web site has a bulletin board where people can post questions. The people who post these questions are usually under the care of physicians, but in addition their physician’s advice they are seeking to become as educated as possible about panic disorder. Self-education is an essential part of any treatment for panic disorder. This is particularly true for the confusing psychosomatic aspects of panic disorder.