PANIC ATTACK & PANIC DISORDER
Panic attack is the most extreme, intense form of anxiety an individual can experience and it can affect both children and adults. It consists of a specific experience/episode in which the person experiences great fear or discomfort. Usually the person will experience rapid onset of a number of the following symptoms (taken from the DSM V) which reach their worst/highest state within 10 minutes from onset: palpitations, pounding or fast heart rate, sweating, shaking, feeling of chest tightening or pain, feeling short of breath, sensation of choking, nausea, feeling lightheaded or dizzy, a strange feeling of things not seeming real or as if one is detached from oneself, fear of losing control or losing one's mind, fear of dying, numbness or tingling sensations, extremes of chills or hot flushes.
Panic disorder is usually diagnosed once an individual has experienced several unexpected panic attacks and develops strong concern that they may experience further episodes of attack. They may also become worried about the outcome of another attack (e.g. fear of having a heart attack or 'going crazy') or display significant changes in their behaviour (triggered by the attacks). Despite the severity of anxiety experienced by individuals with panic attack or disorder, the condition is very treatable. If you would like practical psychological strategies to overcome panic, David McLaurin Clinical Psychologist in Berwick can help.