Dr. David Schmidt of Midcoast Medicine in Rockport will lead a discussion about panic disorder and anxiety as they relate to mental health. The program will include an informational presentation by Schmidt focusing on counseling interventions and medications, which will be followed by a question and answer period. The open forum discussion is free of charge and will be held Thursday, April 8 at 7 p.m. at the First Universalist Church at 345 Broadway in Rockland.

Panic disorder is a real illness that can be successfully treated. It is characterized by sudden attacks of terror, usually accompanied by a pounding heart, sweating, weakness, faintness or dizziness. Panic attacks usually produce a sense of unreality, a fear of impending doom, or a fear of losing control. Panic disorder affects about 6 million American adults and is twice as common in women as men. There are many types of treatments to help combat panic disorder.

Schmidt, a psychiatrist, has extensive training in cognitive behavioral counseling and medication management. He completed his psychiatric residency at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and a fellowship in counseling at the Yale Medical School. Much of his work has focused on the rapid assessment and stabilization of patients in acute psychiatric settings, as well as working with patients with severe mental illness in outpatient settings.

The discussion is sponsored by the Mid-Coast Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, or DBSA Mid-Coast, a peer support group made up of people experiencing depression or bipolar disorder, or those know someone who does. Some people who attend the meetings also face other mental health issues such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder or a co-occurring substance abuse.

All meetings are free of charge and are currently being held on Monday evenings in Waldoboro, Tuesday mornings in Rockland, Wednesday evenings in Belfast and Thursday evenings in Rockland.

For more information on meeting times and locations, or the panic disorder and anxiety discussion, contact Heather at 691-3599.