Panic disorder is a type of
characterized by recurrent and unpredictable bursts of terror known as panic attacks. A panic attack is accompanied by physical symptoms that may feel similar to a
or other life-threatening condition.
Intense anxiety often develops between episodes of panic. As panic attacks become more frequent, people begin avoiding situations that could trigger them. Panic attacks can lead to
agoraphobia. This is a fear of being trapped in places or situations where escape could be difficult or impossible.
Panic disorder is likely to be an interaction of:
Changes in brain function or metabolism
Psychosocial stressors that combine to influence the brain's fear networks
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will also be done. The diagnosis can be made if you have had a panic attack with at least four of the symptoms listed above and persistent worries about the attack for more than one month.
Since some panic disorder symptoms are similar to heart, digestive, and/or thyroid problems, your doctor may recommend tests to rule out an underlying condition.
Tell your doctor about your physical symptoms and how the symptoms make you feel. Your doctor will want to know if the panic attacks interfere with your normal activities. You should also tell your doctor if you:
The goal of treatment is to decrease the frequency and intensity of panic attacks. Studies support a combination of treatment methods to achieve success. Talk to your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.
Education helps people to better understand what panic disorder is and how it can be treated. It focuses on the concepts that symptoms are not life-threatening and are very common. It also helps the person to understand the course of treatment and develop realistic goals for overcoming the disorder. People who undergo treatment have an improved quality of life.
In some people, learning about panic disorder is enough to help relieve symptoms.
Answers to your questions about panic disorder. American Psychological Association website. Available at: ...(Click grey area to select URL) Accessed November 26, 2013.
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Panic disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated February 28, 2013. Accessed November 26, 2013.
Panic disorder and agoraphobia. Anxiety and Depression Association of America website. Available at: ...(Click grey area to select URL) Accessed November 26, 2013.
8/22/2006 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us: Furukawa TA, Watanabe N, Churchill R. Psychotherapy plus antidepressant for panic disorder with or without agoraphobia: systematic review.
Br J Psychiatry.
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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.