Are Panic Disorder and Anxiety Attacks Similar?

By: Charlene Nelson

Health cases are more often than not, in general related. A relapse, reappearance or uncured illness may result to bigger problems, like bulimia is often related with anorexia. This can also take place with panic disorder and anxiety attacks. A panic disorder is seen in recurring episodes of anxiety attacks.

Anxiety attacks are as well well-known as a panic attack. These are described as periods of intense anxiety with symptoms that could be classified as physical or mental. These attacks can come out of the blue with no obvious reasons or stimulus and could last for at least 30 minutes. An unexpected onset may only last for 15 seconds and may carry on and arrive at its climax at 10 minutes. Whereas the symptoms may be different from one person to another, a person who undergos this for the first time may feel like he or she is having a heart attack and may call up emergency services. Nervous breakdowns are as well confused with this. It is diagnosed with the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for a panic attack, that describes it as a period of intense fear with four or more symptoms abruptly developing and reaching its peak at 10 minutes. There are 13 symptoms all in all in this criterion. The 13 symptoms are: palpitations or increased heart rate; choking, chest pain, abdominal discomfort, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, feeling lightheaded, feeling unattached to reality, fear of losing control, fear of death, numbness, and chills.

Specialists diagnose a panic disorder when returning episodes cause somebody to constant fear about having repeated attacks and cause behavioural changes within a month. Most people develop this between the ages 25 to 30. Statistics show clearly that women are more susceptible to develop this than men. Investigations show that demanding events in one’s life can be the source of the problem, though smoking, alcohol, and other sedatives are mostly connected with it. This is diagnosed using the DSM-IV-TR criteria. In this criterion, there are four conditions that should be fulfilled.

- To begin with, a person should have frequent and abrupt episodes and at least one attack has been followed by any of the following for one month: anxiety about the consequences of the attacks, having other attacks, or behavioural change related to the attacks.
- The second condition takes into account the presence, or absence of agoraphobia, which is the fear of doing something uncomfortable.
- The third states that the attack is not a direct effect of any substance or medical ilness.
- And last but not least, the problem is not better described or related to another mental disorder like: a phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or separation anxiety disorder.

As panic disorder and anxiety attacks are linked to each other, the treatments for both are practically the same: medications and psychotherapy. Regardless of the fact there are available treatments, sufferers need correct support and care to help them to handle and overcome this problem.

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