You may have Panic Disorder if you suffer recurrent unexpected panic attacks. A panic attack is an abrupt surge of intense fear or discomfort that peaks within minutes. In a panic attack, you will experience four or more of the following symptoms.
Panic Disorder: Symptoms
- Pounding heart, heart palpitations, or an accelerated heart rate.
- Trembling or shaking.
- Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering.
- Feelings of choking.
- Chest pain or discomfort.
- Nausea or abdominal distress.
- Feeling dizzy, light-headed, unsteady, or faint.
- Chills or heat sensations.
- Numbness or tingling sensations.
- Derealization, feelings of unreality or depersonalization, or, lastly, the sense of being detached from oneself.
- Fear of losing control or going crazy.
- Fear of dying.
In addition to these symptoms, you have experienced any of the following for at least the last month, after experiencing at least one panic attack:
- You have consistently worried about having more panic attacks and/or suffering the consequence of going crazy, losing control, having a heart attack, or experiencing other feared events.
- You have experienced a major change in your behavior in order to try to avoid further panic attacks.
- Substance use or a medical condition, like hyperthyroidism or cardiopulmonary disorder, does not better explain your condition.
- Finally, the disturbance is not better explained by another disorder like social anxiety, a specific phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, as reminders of traumatic events, or in response to separation anxiety disorder.
While 20-24 is the median age of onset, the onset of Panic Disorder can occur later in life. Additionally, Panic Disorder commonly exists with numerous general medical symptoms and conditions. These include, but are not limited to,
- Cardiac arrhythmias.
- Irritable bowel syndrome.
Despite its existence alongside other medical symptoms and conditions, there is no evidence to support a direct causal relationship between Panic Disorder and these other medical symptoms and conditions.
Finally, if you or someone you care about is experiencing Panic Disorder in the Montgomery County, Main Line, or Philadelphia areas, please contact me. We can arrange an evaluation. Furthermore, know that panic disorder responds well to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.