Soho Psychiatry

Panic disorder

Panic disorder

Panic disorder is characterized by recurrent, unexpected panic attacks. Panic attacks are defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM) as “an abrupt surge of intense fear or discomfort” reaching a peak within minutes.

  • Panic attacks are often associated with worry about having future unanticipated panic attacks, which can lead to the avoidance of certain places and activities.
  • Panic disorder is very treatable with therapy and/or medication.

Physical Symptoms

  • Difficulty breathing (e.g. shallow breathing)
  • Racing heart/heart palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Shaking/trembling
  • Chills/hot flushes
  • Tingling in extremities
  • Stomach distress
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness or feelings of faintness
  • Feeling detached from oneself
  • Feelings of choking/suffocating
  • Nausea

Cognitive Symptoms

  • Racing thoughts and difficulty concentrating
  • Fear of losing control
  • Fear that one is dying or fear of imminent doom
  • Fear of “going crazy”
  • Fear of having a heart attack
  • Fear of repeated, unpredictable attacks
  • Fear of visiting certain places (e.g. crowded spaces) or participating in certain activities (e.g. exercise) for fear of having another panic attack.
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