Panic Attacks And Panic Disorder

Definition and Diagnosis
Panic attack is discrete period of intense fear or terror that has sudden onset and reaches a peak quickly. DSM-IV (Diagnostic and statistical Manual for Mental Disorder rev. IV) describes thirteen somatic or cognitive symptom, there are:
  1. Palpitation
  2. Sweating
  3. Trembling or shaking
  4. Sensations of shortness of breath or smoothing
  5. Feeling of choking
  6. Chest pain or discomfort
  7. Nausea or abdominal distress
  8. Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
  9. Derealization (feeling of un reality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself)
  10. Fear of losing control or going crazy
  11. Fear of dying
  12. Paresthesias (numbness or tingling sensations)
  13. Chills or hot flushes
four or more of which must be present during an episode. Three different categories of panic attacks, defined by the presence or absence of triggers, are described. Unexpected (uncued) panic attacks occur spontaneously or “out of the blue” with no apparent situational trigger). In contrast, situationally bound (cued) panic attacks occur, almost invariably, when the person is exposed to or anticipates a feared object or situation (e.g. dog). Situationally predisposed panic attacks occur on exposure to a situational cue, but not all of the time, that is, they do not occur invariably and they may occur following exposure rather than immediately. Panic attacks are not themselves a diagnosis within the DSM system, but rather may occur in the context of several different anxiety disorders. One of these disorders is panic disorder. To meet the diagnostic criteria for a panic disorder, the youngster must experience recurrent unexpected panic attacks. In addition, at least one of these attacks must be followed by at least a month of one or more of the following consequence: (a) persistent concern about additional attacks, and/or (b) worry about the meaning of the attacks (e.g. heart attack, going crazy), and/or (c) an appreciable change in behavior related to the attacks.

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