Panic disorder
The core symptom of panic disorder is recurrent, severe panic attacks with an overwhelming combination of physical and psychological distress. This is usually unexpected, apparently occurring for no reason (out of the blue) such as a response to a feared object.

During an attack, several of the following symptoms occur in combination:

  • Palpitations, pounding heart or rapid heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Feeling of shortness of breath or smothering sensations
  • Chest pain
  • Feeling dizzy, light-headed or faint
  • Feeling of choking
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Chills or hot flushes
  • Nausea or abdominal pains
  • Feeling detached
  • Fear of losing control
  • Fear of dying
  • Feeling of impending doom
  • Depersonalisation (being detached from oneself)
  • Derealisation (feelings of unreality)

Because symptoms are so severe, many people who experience a panic attack may believe they are having a heart attack or other life-threatening illness and may go to a hospital A&E.
The attacks usually peak at about 10 minutes, but may be shorter or longer.

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