Panic Attacks

A sudden overwhelming feeling of acute and disabling anxiety. It is an anxiety disorder that is characterized by sudden attacks of fear and panic. Panic attacks may occur without a known reason, but more frequently they are triggered by fear-producing events or thoughts, such as taking an elevator or driving. Symptoms of panic attacks include rapid heartbeat, strange chest sensations, shortness of breath, dizziness, tingling, and anxiousness. Hyperventilation, agitation, and withdrawal are common results. Panic disorder is believed to be due to an abnormal activation of the body's hormonal system, causing a sudden 'fight or flight' response. Treatment involves cognitive behavioral therapy, using exposure to effect symptom reduction, and use of medication.

Panic attacks are periods of intense fear or apprehension of sudden onset accompanied by at least four or more bodily or cognitive symptoms (such as heart palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath, or feelings of unreality) and of variable duration from minutes to hours. Panic attacks usually begin abruptly and may reach a peak within 10 to 20 minutes but may continue for hours in some cases. Panic attacks are not dangerous and should not cause any physical harm. Panic attacks are of acute onset, and acute debilitation (generally severe) may be followed by a period of residually impaired psychological functioning. Repeated panic attacks are considered a symptom of panic disorder

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