Some Good Hits
Over the years, there have been some good movies and television shows that have dealt with panic disorder, but most television shows are directed toward one kind of disorder such as hoarding and obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD.
You’ll find tons of commercials on depression drugs and drugs that supplement those drugs, but none of those ads mention the words “panic" and “disorder" together.
An all-time favorite that explores panic and anxiety has to come from Director Robert Redford. In his 1980 movie Ordinary People, the parents face intense panic from their son (played by Timothy Hutton). Any of us who suffer from panic disorder and have seen this film can identify with the scene where Timothy Hutton sits in a car with his buddies on his way to school. In the scene, the car is stopped awaiting a train to cross, and the intense panic and anxiety on the actor’s face is conveyed in an identifiable way. I do believe that both Redford and Hutton did a good job getting that point across, however, to the non-sufferer, it was probably missed.
Only when we see Hutton’s character visit his psychiatrist (played by Judd Hirsh) does the viewer finally understand that Hutton’s character wants to be “more in control." Judd Hirsh also does a nice job of helping and kudos to both him and director Redford. If you suffer from panic attack disorder, this is a must see, so rent the movie.
Another big hit for portraying panic disorder in the media came on ABC’s television show 20/20. Guest Psychologist David Barlow impressively documented how panic disorder can take the form so that people “are so paralyzed with fear for years that they are unable even to leave their homes," and that panic disorder can be “hereditary and stress can make a person vulnerable to panic attacks." ABC’s 20/20 did a series on panic disorders and also OCD, depression, and schizophrenia. All of these broadcasts (if you missed them) are available at Amazon.