Panic disorder & Panic attack

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What is a panic attack?

What is a panic disorder?

What is the difference between panic attack and panic disorder?

What is the prevalence of panic attack?

What is the prevalence of panic disorder?

What are the signs and symptoms of panic attack and panic disorder?

What are the causes and risk factors of panic disorder?

How to diagnose panic disorder? (DSM-5)

How to treat panic disorder? 


A panic attack is a sudden unexpected episode of intense fear and discomfort.

they spontaneously appear and they are generally associated with physical signs and symptoms of the most intense form of anxiety without a clear provoking event. The peak happens within minutes, and the signs can last for several hours.

Suppose the person experiences more than one panic attack and keeps worrying about the timing of the next episode for more than a month. In that case, these may be signs of panic disorder.

Panic disorder is approximately twice as common in women than men, with a 5 percent lifetime prevalence among women versus 2 percent among men.

One in 10 adults in the U.S. has a panic attack each year. Nearly a third of people have one in their lifetime.

The typical age of onset is late adolescence through the late ’30s.

A typical panic attack is associated with four or more of the following signs.
Palpitations or pounding heart.
Trembling or shaking.
Shortness of breath.
Feelings of choking.
Chest pain.
Nausea or abdominal distress.
Heat sensations.
Numbness or tingling sensations.
Derealization, which is feelings of unreality.
Fear of losing control or “going crazy.”
Fear of dying.

To consider a diagnosis of panic disorder, the following four criteria are required as per DSM five.
A, Recurrent unexpected panic attacks.
B, Persistent concern or worry about additional panic attacks or A significant maladaptive change in behavior related to the attacks.
C, The signs and symptoms are not the result of consuming a drug or medicine.
D, Another disorder does not better explain the signs and symptoms, example of bipolar disease, ADHD are among others.

Factors that may increase the risk of developing panic attacks or panic disorder include:
Family history of panic attacks or panic disorder.
major life stressors, or traumatic events such as divorce or sexual assault.
Alteration in brain biochemistry, especially norepinephrine, serotonin, and gamma-aminobutyric acid activity, may contribute to panic disorder.

Panic attacks are profoundly annoying, are not dangerous, can alter the quality of life if not properly treated.

Talk therapy have proven effective to treat panic disorder, Cognitive behavioral therapy helps the person to recognize, challenge and change negative thoughts and behaviors.

Antidepressants are used to manage panic disorder.
SSRI group of medications that regulate the level of serotonin in the brain.
SNRI group of medications that regulate levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain.
Anxiolytics such as lorazepam belongs to the group of benzodiazepine, this medications help to manage short term anxiety.

Here are a few simple ways that may help to decrease stress and anxiety.
Reduce caffeine intake,
consuming healthy food,
Regular exercise,
Decrease consumption of alcohol,
Deep breathing exercises.

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