A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause. Panic attacks can be very frightening. When panic attacks occur, you might think you're losing control, having a heart attack or even dying. A panic attack begins suddenly, and most often peaks within 10 - 20 minutes. Some symptoms may continue for an hour or more. A panic attack may be mistaken for a heart attack. Panic attacks may include anxiety about being in a situation where an escape may be difficult (such as being in a crowd or traveling in a car or bus). Sometimes some people have recurrent, unexpected panic attacks and spent long periods in constant fear of another attack, they may have a condition called panic disorder. Panic attacks may change behavior and function at home, school, or work. People with the disorder often worry about the effects of their panic attacks. Some people stop going into situations or places in which they've previously had a panic attack in anticipation of it happening again. These people have agoraphobia, and they typically avoid public places where they feel immediate escape might be difficult, such as shopping malls, public transportation, or large sports arenas. About one in three people with panic disorder develops agoraphobia. Their world may become smaller as they are constantly on guard, waiting for the next panic attack. Some people develop a fixed route or territory, and it may become impossible for them to travel beyond their safety zones without suffering severe anxiety.
Keywords: Panic attack, Panic disorder, Anxiety, Agoraphobia.
Anna, a 14-year old, was sitting in science class watching a film. All of a sudden, she started feeling really strange. Her ears seemed to be stuffed with cotton and her vision was very dim. She was cold, had broken out in a sweat, and felt extremely afraid for no good reason. Her heart was racing and she immediately became convinced that she was dying. A friend sitting behind her saw how pale she had become and tried to ask her what was wrong, but Anna couldn’t speak. She was in a state of panic and couldn’t move. The friend got the teacher’s attention, who motioned to Anna to come over to him. Although she would have sworn she couldn’t move, she stood up to go to him and immediately everything returned to normal. The story above is a classic example of a panic attack, a sudden onset of extreme panic with various physical symptoms. Panic disorder is diagnosed in people who experience spontaneous seemingly out-of-the-blue panic attacks and are preoccupied with the fear of a recurring attack. Panic attacks occur unexpectedly, sometimes even during sleep. A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause. Panic attacks can be very frightening. When panic attacks occur, you might think you're losing control, having a heart attack or even dying.
Many people have just one or two panic attacks in their lifetimes, and the problem goes away, perhaps when a stressful situation ends. But if you've had recurrent, unexpected panic attacks and spent long periods in constant fear of another attack, you may have a condition called panic disorder. A Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by recurring severe panic attacks. It may also include significant behavioral changes lasting at least a month and of ongoing worry about the implications or concern about having other attacks. Panic disorder is a potentially disabling disorder, but can be controlled and successfully treated. Because of the intense symptoms that accompany panic disorder, it may be mistaken for a life-threatening physical illness such as a heart attack. Panic disorder is not the same as agoraphobia (fear of public places), although many afflicted with panic disorder also suffer from agoraphobia. Panic attacks cannot be predicted;