Panic Disorder: Introduction FeedbackA general introduction to Panic Disorder.Source: NHS Choices, 15 Aug 2014
Panic disorder is where you have recurring and regular panic attacks, often for no apparent reason.
Everyone experiences feelings of anxiety and panic at certain times during their lifetime. It's a natural response to stressful or dangerous situations.
However, for someone with panic disorder, feelings of anxiety, stress and panic occur regularly and at any time.
Anxiety is a feeling of unease. It can range from mild to severe and can include feelings of worry and fear.
There are several conditions that can cause severe anxiety including
- phobias – an extreme or irrational fear of an object, place, situation, feeling or animal
- generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) – a long-term condition that causes excessive anxiety and worry relating to a variety of situations
- post-traumatic stress disorder – a condition with psychological and physical symptoms caused by distressing or frightening events
A panic attack occurs when your body experiences a rush of intense psychological (mental) and physical symptoms.
You may experience an overwhelming sense of fear, apprehension and anxiety. As well as these feelings, you may also have physical symptoms such as:
- a sensation that your heart is beating irregularly (palpitations)
The number of panic attacks you have will depend on how severe your condition is. Some people may have one or two attacks each month, while others may have several attacks a week.
Read more about the symptoms of panic disorder.
Panic attacks can be very frightening and intense, but they're not dangerous. An attack won't cause you any physical harm, and it's unlikely that you'll be admitted to hospital if you've had a panic attack.
What causes panic disorder?
As with many mental health conditions, the exact cause of panic disorder isn't fully understood.
However, it's thought the condition is probably linked to a combination of physical and psychological factors.
Read about the possible causes of panic disorder.
It’s important to be aware that some physical conditions and disorders can have similar symptoms to those of anxiety. For example:
- mitral valve prolapse
- postural orthostatic tachycardic syndrome (POTS)
- paroxysmal atrial tachycardia – episodes of rapid and regular heartbeats that begin and end abruptly
- thyrotoxicosis – where large amounts of thyroid hormones are released into the bloodstream, causing rapid heartbeat, sweating, tremor and anxiety
- poorly controlled diabetes
- adrenal tumours – growths that develop on the adrenal glands (two triangular-shaped glands that form part of the kidneys)
- carcinoid syndrome – a set of symptoms caused by some carcinoid tumours that can develop in the cells of the endocrine system (glands that produce and secrete hormones)
- Zollinger-Ellison syndrome – causes overproduction of insulin and low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia)
Diagnosing panic disorder
See your GP if you have symptoms of anxiety or panic disorder (see above).
You may be diagnosed with panic disorder if you experience recurrent and unexpected panic attacks followed by at least one month of continuous worry or concern about having further attacks.
Read more about how panic disorder is diagnosed.
Treating panic disorder
The aim of treating panic disorder is to reduce the number of panic attacks you have and ease the severity of your symptoms.
Psychological therapy and medication are the two main types of treatment for panic disorder.
Read more about treating panic disorder and things you can do to help yourself during a panic attack.
Having panic disorder may affect your ability to drive. It's your legal obligation to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) about a medical condition that could have an impact on your driving ability.
GOV.UK has further information and advice about driving with a disability or health condition.
Complications of panic disorder
Panic disorder is treatable, but to make a full recovery it's important that you seek medical help as soon as possible. Treatment for panic disorder is much more effective if it's given at an early stage.
Agoraphobia is a fear of being in situations where escape might be difficult, or help wouldn't be available if things go wrong.
Read more about the complications of panic disorder.
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...a range of anxiety disorders which includes acute stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post traumatic...Coexisting psychiatric disorders: other psychiatric disorders such as panic disorder and social anxiety...
Clinical Knowledge Summaries, 01 June 2013
...such as anxiety disorders. It is thought...generalised anxiety disorder. • Treatment...Treatment of panic disorder, with...month study. Panic disorder The efficacy of...initial dose in panic disorder studies was 37...
Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, 28 May 2009
Report of the CSM expert working group on the safety of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor antidepressants.
...problems with severe depression, such as substance misuse, anxiety, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), eating disorders and borderline personality disorder. Mood disorders are common in those with physical illness. Data...
Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, 28 July 2005
...to medical interventions, panic disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (DSM-IV-TR 2000...obsessive-compulsive disorders, phobias, panic disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorders...
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 17 October 2012 - Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
...Psychogenic’ events have accounted for 30% of all adverse reactions reported. These include vasovagal syncope, faints, and panic attacks, which can occur with any injection procedure—not only vaccination. These events are due to fear or anticipation...
Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, 01 April 2009
...attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were excluded in... Obsessive compulsive disorder was excluded from all but...Wagner 2006). Other anxiety disorders excluded were post-traumatic stress disorder (Berard 2006; Emslie 2009...Wagner 2004; Wagner 2006) and panic disorder (Berard 2006; Emslie...
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 14 November 2012 - Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
...those traditionally seen as adult disorders (panic disorder with or without agoraphobia, generalised...therefore also included. anxiety disorders traditionally regarded as adult disorders -- panic disorder with or without agoraphobia, GAD...
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 08 July 2009 - Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
Comparative Mortality Risk in Adult Patients With Schizophrenia, Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Participating in Psychopharmacology Clinical Trials
...agents approved to treat schizophrenia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety disorders including panic disorder, SAD, GAD, OCD, and PTSD between 1990 and 2011. Specifically, we reviewed...
29 August 2013 - Publisher: JAMA Psychiatry - Publication type: Other primary research
...Izrayelit L. Schizoaffective disorder and PTSD successfully treated...Post-traumatic stress disorder: current status and future...carbamazepine in the treatment of panic and posttraumatic stress disorders. Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology...CB. Posttraumatic stress disorder in the National Comorbidity...
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 25 January 2006 - Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
...post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, and grief. Medical problems...moderate depression, phobia, or panic disorder (see Improving access to...moderate depression, phobia, or panic disorder (see Improving access to...
Clinical Knowledge Summaries, 01 January 2013
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