Panic Disorder

Panic Disorder

Panic is estimated to affect approximately 170,000 adults over a 12-month period. It is diagnosed two to three times more often in women than in men. A panic attack is a sudden discrete period of intense anxiety, fear, apprehension or terror. Four or more physical symptoms develop abruptly, such as palpitations, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, stomach discomfort, feeling dizzy, feelings of unreality or detachment from oneself, fear of dying, numbness or tingling, chill or hot flushes. Attacks can last from a couple of seconds through to an hour or more. The symptoms might also appear to mimic symptoms of a heart attack or other life-threatening medical condition. Following an attack, people frequently feel tired and drained, and apprehensive about whether they are going to have another attack.

Panic attacks are often initially experienced as unexpected, as if they have come “out of the blue”; they can even occur in sleep (called nocturnal panic attacks) and so a person may not be able to identify the cause of an attack. When PD is present, the panic attacks are associated with persistent concern about having additional attacks or its consequences. A person with PD may fear collapsing, dying or going crazy during a panic attack.

PD is also diagnosed according to whether or not agoraphobia is present: Agoraphobia concerns anxiety about and avoidance of being in situations from which escape or help might be difficult if a panic attack occurred. People with agoraphobia are unable to go beyond surroundings known to be safe, such as their homes

A person with PD may also experience other problems, such as depression, alcohol/substance abuse, difficulties interacting with others and difficulties in general functioning. It is necessary to have a medical check to rule out the possibility of an underlying medical condition.

Other anxiety conditions

PTS Disorder

OC Disorder

Specific Phobia - see School Refusal

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