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PANIC ATTACK

It is a period of intense fear or apprehension of sudden onset and triggers physical reaction when there is no real damage or apparent cause.

One might think that he is losing control, having a heart attack or even dying. Many people have one or two episodes inpast but if it is recurrent and unexpected then it is labeled as panic disorder. These aren't themselves life threatening but affect quality of life.

Symptoms

  • Sense of impending doom
  • Rapid pounding heart rate
  • Sweating, trembling
  • Difficulty breathing, chills, hot flashes
  • Nausea, abdominal cramping, dizziness

Causes

Genetics and major stresses have been implicated.

Diagnosis

  • Complete physical examination
  • ECG
  • Psychiatric evaluation

Risk Factors

Occurs often in late teens and more in females

  • Family history
  • Life events: death of beloved ones, divorce
  • Traumatic past: separation from family, sexual abuse
  • Smoking, caffeine

Complications

  • Development of specific fears
  • Frequent visit to doctor
  • Social withdrawal
  • Diminished performance in school and at work

Treatment

  • Pharmacotherapy: fluoxetine, alprazolam, clonazepam
  • Psychotherapy