In the not so distant past it may have taken months to years of worry, fear and distress before finally being correctly diagnosed with a panic disorder. While mental health professionals today may make the proper diagnosis of panic more quickly, many people suffer through their panic attack not knowing they have a disorder that is easily treated.
Panic Attack Mimics Heart Disease
The ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America) reports that hundreds of thousands of emergency room and medical appointments are directly related to panic attack. The patient reports symptoms during their panic attack that mimic cardiac or heart disease. In fact the medical symptoms are so close to resembling a life threatening issue that an EKG is generally ordered for a correct diagnosis.
Panic Attack Mimics Many Medical Disorders
While panic attacks are most often compared to diagnoses of heart disease, heart attack, and severe angina, they also mimic other medical disorders as well. A panic attack can mimic breathing disorders, thyroid problems, and impede proper organ functioning which can affect the whole body and feelings of wellness. People who suffer from panic symptoms often do so in private, slowly distancing themselves from their support systems.
Symptoms of Panic Attack
A panic attack comes on abruptly and brings the feelings of intense fear developing within a few short minutes. For a diagnosis of panic attack includes at least four of the following symptoms:
- Heart palpitations, pounding heart, fast heart rate, chest pain or heavy discomfort
- Feeling short of breath, or of being smothered or choked
- Body trembling or shaking
- Numbness or tingling of body parts or extremities
- Sweating with alternating feelings of being chilled or hot
- Nausea or having abdominal or GI distress
- Feeling of “losing control,” or “going crazy”
- Fears of dying
- Feeling faint or light-headed
Panic Attack among the Sexes
Research studies show that women are more likely to have a psychiatric disorder during their lifetime. In fact, from puberty to about age 50, a woman is two times more likely than a man to have an anxiety disorder. Brain chemistry, female hormones and sensitivity to specific hormones that regulate stress responses make women two times more vulnerable than a man. While women may be more susceptible to panic attacks or panic disorder, fewer women than men seek out help and often suffer in silence never knowing how close the “cure” to their disorder is. There is no need to suffer in silence or to endure the pain and fear of a panic disorder. Atlanta panic attack psychiatrist Dr. Darvin Hege has successfully diagnosed and treated panic attack and panic disorder for over two decades.