Did you know that almost 14 % of general population suffers from one of the anxiety disorders? And did you know that the majority are women? Some physicians fail to recognize the symptoms. If you suffer from hyperventilation, palpitations, tingling sensations, dizziness or chest pain that suddenly come and suddenly disappear, you might be suffering from panic disorder. Wait no longer. There is help.
Panic disorder (PD) is one of the many anxiety disorders. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fourth edition (DSM-IV), panic disorder is characterized by recurring panic attacks, "i.e. discrete periods of intense fear or discomfort, with at least four characteristic symptoms:
shortness of breath (dyspnea) or smothering sensations
dizziness, unsteady feelings, or faintness
palpitations or accelerated heart rate (tachycardia)
trembling or shaking
nausea or abdominal distress
depersonalization or derealization
numbness or tingling sensations (paresthesias)
flushes (hot flushes) or chills
chest pain or discomfort
fear of dying
fear of going crazy or of doing something uncontrolled" (APA, 1994)
In order to meet the definition of panic attack, the symptoms must occur unexpectedly and abruptly without the person being the focus of other people's attention and or being exposed to generally anxiety-provoking stimuli shortly before the onset of the symptoms. To be diagnosed with panic disorder, the patient must have at least four attacks within four weeks. Alternately, the patient can have one or more attacks which result in a period of at least a month of persistent fear of experiencing another attack (APA, 1987). Before assigning the diagnosis of panic disorder, the possibility that organic factors are causing the symptoms must be ruled out.