Panic Disorders: What You Should Know

Have you experienced a panic attack? Aditya Sharma, MD, shares symptoms of a possible disorder, and how to seek treatment.

Aditya Sharma, MD, offers advice for those who suffer from panic attacks, and what to do next.

What is a panic disorder?

A panic attack is defined in DSM IV as a discrete period of intense fear or discomfort, in which at least four of the following symptoms develop abruptly and reach a peak within 10 minutes: palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate, sweating, trembling or shaking, sensations of shortness of breath or smothering, feeling of choking, chest pain or discomfort, nausea or abdominal distress, feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded or faint, derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself) , fear of losing control or going crazy, fear of dying, paraesthesia (numbness or tingling sensations), chills or hot flushes.

For most people a panic attack mimics a heart attack and often times ends up with a trip to the emergency room in an ambulance.

Panic disorder is described as recurrent panic attacks with at least a month of either a persistent concern about having additional attacks, or worry about the implications of another attack along with a significant change in behavior related to the attacks.

The important thing to rule out is that these attacks are not a direct result of substance abuse or a medical condition.

If I experience a panic attack, does that mean I have a panic disorder?

Having an isolated panic attack does not mean you have panic disorder. Often times an isolated panic attack can happen due to several factors and one may never experience another attack. Panic disorder is characterized by recurrent panic attacks.

When should I seek treatment for a panic disorder?

If you experience extreme anxiety from a panic attack or they are recurrent, treatment is indicated.

Medical Center of McKinney is dedicated to understanding, diagnosing, and successfully treating panic attack and anxiety disorders. If you or a loved one could benefit from medical care, please visit our website to learn more about how we can help. To find a physician, call us 1-855-296-6265.

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Aditya Sharma, MD

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