by Scholten A

Talking to Your Doctor About Panic Disorder

You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with panic disorder. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.

General Tips for Gathering Information

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:
  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor

About Panic Disorder
  • Are my fears, panic attacks, and other symptoms typical of panic disorder?
  • Can you do a full physical to rule out other illnesses?
  • Are you trained to treat people with panic disorder? Do you have experience? If not, can you refer me to someone who does?
About Treatment Options
  • What treatment options are available for panic disorder?
  • If I need medication, how long will it take to work? What benefits should I expect? What side effects should I watch for?
  • Can you recommend counselors who treat people with panic disorder?
  • If you decide to try counseling, interview counselors and find one with whom you feel comfortable. You should ask the counselor about:
    • Their experience in treating panic disorder
    • Their basic approach to treatment
    • The length of treatment
    • The length and frequency of treatment sessions
    • What health insurance is accepted
    • Fee schedules and sliding scale fees to accompany various financial circumstances
About Lifestyle Changes
  • Are their lifestyle changes that could help reduce my panic and stress symptoms? Such as:
    • Diet
    • Relaxation and stress management techniques
    • Exercise
  • Can you recommend methods for incorporating these behaviors?
About Your Outlook
  • What are my chances of recovering from panic disorder, both with and without treatment?
  • Can panic disorder or related conditions recur? What can I do to prevent a recurrence?
  • Can you recommend a support group?

References

Answers to your questions about panic disorder. American Psychological Association website. Available at: http://www.apa.org/topics/anxiety/panic-disorder.aspx. Accessed November 26, 2013.

Panic disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated February 28, 2013. Accessed November 26, 2013.

Tips for talking to your doctor. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/healthcare-management/working-with-your-doctor/tips-for-talking-to-your-doctor.html. Updated November 2010. Accessed November 26, 2013.

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