Panic Disorder Symptoms and Causes

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Panic Disorder Symptoms and Causes

Everyone, at one point or another, has felt anxious. It could have been due to stress. It could have been as a result of having to perform in front of an audience. It could have been for fear of not being accepted by the graduate school of your choice. But have you ever had episodes of intense anxiety and fear, unexpectedly and in the absence of any real external threat? If you have, then you were very likely experiencing a "panic attack," the hallmark of panic disorder, which occurs when the brain’s normal mechanism for reacting to a threat become used inappropriately (9). This disorder is associated not only with a number of somatic and cognitive symptoms, but has a large number of possible causes as well. Generally, it is possible to have healthy people experience an isolated panic attack and not actually have the panic disorder. Up to ten percent of people with panic attacks fit in this category (6). In order to be diagnosed with the panic disorder, a person must experience at least two unexpected panic attacks and develop constant concern about having another attack (4). In the United States, about three million people will experience panic disorder at some point in their life(3).

So what are the symptoms of a panic disorder? As mentioned above, a person can have a panic attack and not have a panic disorder, but all panic disorders begin with panic attacks. During the attack, the person might experience just several or more than several of the following symptoms (to be deemed a panic disorder, the person must experience at least four of the following symptoms): racing or rapid heart beat, chest pain, breathing difficulties, choking sensation, nausea and/or vomiting, a feeling of deta...

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... its treatments

4)Anxiety Disorders- including Panic Disorder and Phobias, additional info on panic attacks

5)Anxiety Disorders Treatment Target: Amygdala Circuity, explains how amygdala may have a role in anxiety and panic disorder

6)Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General, great site for panic disorder info

7)SSRI’s and Panic Disorder, All about Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, and Luvox

8)Caffeine…Panic Attacks and caffeine don’t mix, effects of caffeine on panic attacks

9)Understanding Panic Disorder, additional info about panic disorder

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