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Panic Disorder

Also known as panic attacks. Is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent and unpredictable bursts.A panic attack is accompanied by physical symptoms that may feel similar to a heart attack or other life-threatening condition. Intense anxiety often develops between episodes of panic. As panic attacks become more frequent, people begin avoiding situations that could trigger them. Panic attacks can lead to agoraphobia, which is the fear of unknown places.

Causes

  • Stressful life events
  • Other biological factors
  • Increased sensitivity to physical sensations
  • Family history (most common)

Risk Factors

These factors increase your chance of developing panic disorder. Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors:

  • Sex: female
  • Age: young adult
  • History of another anxiety disorder
  • Family history of panic disorders

Symptoms

Panic attacks usually occur unexpectedly and repeatedly. They include many of the following symptoms:

  • Sudden and intense episodes of fear
  • Racing, pounding, or skipping heartbeat
  • Chest pain, pressure, or discomfort
  • Difficulty catching breath
  • Choking sensation or lump in the throat
  • Excessive sweating
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Tingling or numbness in parts of the body
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Feelings of unreality, or being detached from the body
  • An urge to flee

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