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What is Panic Disorder?

Panic disorder is a fairly common condition in which a person has uncomfortable episodes of fear or anxiety that occur suddenly (often without warning). The attacks—called panic attacks—can last from minutes to hours. They may occur only seldom, or quite frequently. The cause, or "trigger," for these attacks may not be obvious right away.


What Happens During a Panic Attack?

Panic attacks are often associated with physical symptoms such as shaking, a feeling your heart is pounding or racing, sweating, chest pain, shortness of breath, a feeling of choking, nausea, cramping, diarrhea, dizziness, an out-of-body sensation (a feeling of being apart from oneself), tingling in the hands, chills or hot flashes and headache. A person may also have an extreme fear of losing control, going crazy or dying during a panic attack. It is very rare for a person to have all of these symptoms at once, although the presence of at least 4 symptoms strongly suggests the diagnosis of panic disorder.


At Gary J. Meiers, Ph.D., JoAnn Hammond-Meiers, Ph.D. and Associates Ltd. in Edmonton, we help our clients deal with panic disorders through compassionate, professional care. Call our office to schedule an appointment with our registered psychologists.