Panic Disorder Symptoms
Panic Disorder displays itself primarily through panic attacks. Panic attacks are sometimes referred to as anxiety attacks, therefore these two terms are used interchangeably here. A panic attack is a distinct episode of extreme apprehension when individuals experience at least four of the following anxiety attack symptoms:
- Heart palpitations, increased heart rate
- Dizziness, lightheadedness
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Tingling or numbing
- Feeling of choking
- Chills or hot flashes
- Derealization or depersonalization
- Fear of going crazy or losing control
- Fear of dying
Panic attacks can differ from one person to the next, and symptoms of panic attacks and their intensity can vary even within the same individual. Generally, individuals experience more than four symptoms during a panic attack, yet some people continue to have limited-symptom attacks where they notice less than four symptoms. Some of these limited-symptom attacks can be quite debilitating, but most of them tend to be less intense and the heart rate does not increase as much compared to “full-blown” panic attacks.
Several of the symptoms of panic attacks involve physical sensations (such as heart pounding and shaking), whereas other anxiety attack symptoms are thoughts (such as fear of going crazy or dying). Panic attacks are often paired with agoraphobic behaviors, such as avoiding situations where escape may be difficult in case of an anxiety attack. Since a panic attack can consist of several physical symptoms, individuals often believe they have a physical condition for which they incorrectly seek medical attention.