Panic Disorder


Panic disorder is a psychiatric condition characterised by abrupt episodes of intense fear or anxiety, often accompanied by a range of physical sensations, including trembling, dizziness, shortness of breath, and chest tightness, which may necessitate immediate medical evaluation. 

While panic disorder can affect individuals of any age, it is more prevalent among those aged 25-44, and it is statistically more common in women than in men, affecting 2-5% of the population.

The physical nature of these symptoms sometimes leads affected individuals to seek medical attention from various specialists before consulting a psychiatrist. In cases where healthcare providers do not fully grasp the nature of this disorder, it can hinder the provision of appropriate care, contributing to the persistence of the condition and the fear of it recurring.

The exact cause of panic disorder remains not fully known, but it is believed to be linked to a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors.  Biological factors play a crucial role in triggering panic symptoms. Research has suggested that abnormalities in the locus coeruleus, a region of the brain with a high concentration of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, can lead to dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system, which controls the functions of various bodily organs. Consequently, the malfunctioning of this system may result in symptoms like palpitations when the heart is stimulated or excessive sweating when the sweat glands are activated.

However, many individuals experiencing panic disorder may not recognize the source of their distress and could misinterpret their symptoms as a sign of heart disease or other severe medical conditions. As such, if someone encounters symptoms such as palpitations, rapid heartbeat, profuse sweating, and an impending sense of doom, it is advisable to seek prompt medical attention. If no physical illness is identified, it is advised to consult with a psychiatrist for a comprehensive assessment and diagnosis.

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