Panic Disorder
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What is Panic Disorder?

Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear. The fear is accompanied by physical symptoms that may include chest pain, heart palpitations, sweating, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress. These sensations often mimic symptoms of a heart attack or other life-threatening medical conditions.

Many people with panic disorder also experience feelings of anxiety between episodes of panic. It is not unusual for a person with panic disorder to develop phobias about places or situations where panic attacks have occurred, such as in supermarkets or other everyday situations. As the frequency of panic attacks increases, the person often begins to avoid situations where they fear another attack may occur or...

A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.

It is possible to develop panic disorder with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing panic disorder. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

Age

Panic disorder typically develops between the ages of 15-24, especially for men. However, it can also begin in the 30s and 40s, especially for women. The prevalence of panic disorder seems to be increasing in younger generations.

Gender

Panic disorder is twice as common in women as in men. Pregnancy can either improve the condition or make it worse. Panic disorder with agoraphobia is more common in...

If you have panic disorder , you may feel suddenly terrified for no reason. These unexpected and repeated bursts of terror are called panic attacks. Panic attacks can happen any time and any place without warning. They often happen in grocery stores, malls, crowds, or while traveling. Panic attacks don't last long, but they are so scary that they feel like they go on forever.

You may live in constant fear of another attack and may stay away from places where you have had an attack. For some people, fear takes over their lives and they may dread leaving their homes. They develop a condition known as agoraphobia , which is fear of unknown places or fear of being in places where you might feel trapped or unable to escape. People with agoraphobia fear being in crowds, standing in line,...

Diagnosis of panic disorder can be difficult because several other physical and mental disorders are associated with panic attacks. You will need a thorough physical and mental evaluation before a proper diagnosis can be made. Diagnosis of panic attack is based on a proper evaluation and the criteria outlined in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(DSM-IV).

In the DSM-IV, panic disorder is defined as recurrent, unexpected panic attacks followed by at least one month of persistent concern about having another attack, worry about the consequences of panic attacks, and a change in behavior as a result of the attacks.

Your doctor will conduct an evaluation that may include the following:

Initial Assessment

Your doctor will...

There are currently no guidelines for reducing your risk of panic disorder. As scientists learn more about the condition, your doctor may have more information regarding steps for reducing your risk of panic disorder.

Anxiety Disorders Association of America

Address:

11900 Parklawn Drive, Suite 100
Rockville, MD 20852

Phone:

1-240-485-1001

Internet address:

http://www.adaa.org/

Description of services provided:

This website provides information on anxiety disorders (for the public and health professionals), finding a therapist, self-help groups, and anxiety screening tools.

Freedom from Fear

Address:

308 Seaview Ave
Staten Island, NY 10305

Phone:

1-718-351-1717

Internet address:

http://www.freedomfromfear.org/

Description of services provided:

This website provides an anxiety screening questionnaire, articles on anxiety and related mental health concerns, a message board, a national treatment network, links to...

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