Panic attacks, a symptom of panic disorder, are very frightening for anyone who has ever experienced them. Many people who suffer from panic attacks live in a constant state of fear, at times shutting themselves off from society, because they never know when a social situation, or other situation such as driving, may trigger their next attack. Needless to say, panic attacks inhibit sufferers from living a desired quality of life. Often, sufferers do not know how to ask for help for their condition, or they believe there is no remedy for their panic disorder, so they drink alcohol to alleviate anxiety. Many who attempt to self-medicate their panic disorder by drinking alcohol unknowingly intensify their panic disorder and add one more problem to their health–alcohol abuse.
According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, one-fifth of all people who suffer from a social anxiety disorder, such as panic disorder, abuse alcohol.
Many people drink alcohol because they are anxious, and they believe alcohol consumption will relieve their anxiety. However, alcohol consumed in high quantities actually increases anxiety, which may intensify the anxiety and cause full blown panic attacks. Unfortunately, once a person becomes dependent upon alcohol, it is very difficult to stop using the drug, and the panic disorder worsens as more alcohol is consumed.
A combination of pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy has been proven to be beneficial for those suffering with panic attacks. However, if alcohol abuse is also present along with the condition, it is necessary to treat the alcohol abuse in conjunction with the panic disorder. Many dual diagnosis hospitals and drug treatment centers offer help for both conditions.