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Friday, November 22, 2019

Panic Disorder

The principal difficulty of patients diagnosed with panic disorder is that they experience recurrent unexpected panic attacks. A panic attack is an abrupt surge of intense fear or intense discomfort that reaches its maximum intensity within minutes, and during which time four (or more) of the following symptoms occur:

  1. Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate.
  2. Sweating.
  3. Trembling or shaking.
  4. Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering.
  5. Feelings of choking.
  6. Chest pain or discomfort.
  7. Nausea or abdominal distress.
  8. Feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed, or faint.
  9. Chills or hot flashes.
  10. Paresthesias (numbness or tingling sensations).
  11. Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from one’s self).
  12. Fear of losing control or "going crazy."
  13. Fear of dying.

Patients with panic disorder must experience persistent concern or worry about additional panic attacks or their consequences (e.g., losing control, having a heart attack, "going crazy'') and a significant maladaptive change in behavior related to the attacks (e.g., behaviors designed to avoid having panic attacks, such as avoidance of exercise or unfamiliar situations).

Important notice: You should not reach the decision that you or the person you have in mind, when reading the above clinical description, suffers from panic disorder. We encourage you to seek professional advice, if you feel that you or the persons you care about meet one or more of the clinical criteria. 

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