Are panic attacks a disability?

  1. Okay, so I am really embarrassed to even ask about this...hence why I am asking on the web! :-) But does anyone know if panic attacks and or fear of speaking in public (like formal speeches) are considered disabilities? I just got into a really good nursing program and I am so afraid I am going to have to do presentations/speeches, etc. This is not just a small fear for me as I know many have this same phobia. It is so bad, I can hardly stand to breathe. I don't have a problem speaking in small groups and am not really a shy person. This has just been a life long fear of mine that I have never grown out of. My school has a disibility office and it just seems like if they help ADD and ADHD and all that this should defintely fall into a disibility. I am not trying to take an easy rode out either. If this were not so bad I would just try to overcome it.
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    About SimpleGal

    Joined: Aug '06; Posts: 6


  3. by   EricJRN

    You're right that speaking in public produces fear in many, many people. While I have never heard of a school making disability-related accomodations for students with this type of problem, I can make a suggestion. There is a worldwide organization called Toastmasters which has helped many people, including myself, to become better speakers and leaders. You can check them out on the web at
  4. by   mom2cka
    My mother's anxiety disorder is horrible - she used to be an LPN and now has been officially declared 'disabled' - I hate to see it, but she has other mental health issues that go along with it, too. I don't know if your school is willing to consider your condition a 'disability' unless you've been diagnosed, undergone treatment, therapy, medications, etc, but I do know my husband has social anxiety disorder, and Paxil helped him quite a bit... good luck!
  5. by   SimpleGal
    I appreciate the advice on the toastmasters. I think I have looked at that before, but did not have time to join. I do hope at some point to overcome this fear. I wonder if anyone has any thoughts in the meantime about whether taking a sedative type medication during those circumstances might help. I have a friend who takes something for anxiety and it totally calms her and puts her in a relaxed state. I know when I have taken vicodin and/or Tylenol with coddiene for post op recovery I have really felt calm. If I weren't so terrified, I would be confident in my ability to give a presentation.
  6. by   SimpleGal
    Paxil is the drug my friend takes for anxiety. I have never been diagnosed or seen a doctor for it as this is really the only phobia I have. I don't even have social anxiety. I have sang/performed in front of thousands of people and been in front of various crowds in the film industry with nothing more than jitters, but when it comes to giving a formal speech I would rather die than have to go through with it. I just don't understand why this happens to me. It is very frustrating because I am a very determined person and I hate feeling handicapped by this. It is nice to know I am not alone.
  7. by   michellemybelle
    My best friend has a terrible fear of speaking in public. She uses Xanax 30 min before each speech and it really helps calm her down and get through it.

    In my own opinion, anxiety seems to be much more common than you think. In my nursing school, all the presentation we've done have been done with a group of 3-4 people, as the school wants to encourage teambuilding (a really important value in hospital nursing).

    Best of luck to you! You can do it and get through it!

  8. by   EricJRN

    For medication questions, it's best to consult your physician. We sympathize with your issue and wish the best for you, but this site's Terms of Service do not allow us to offer medical advice.

    I am closing this thread, but I wish you the best of luck.