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The main symptom of panic disorder is the occurrence of recurrent and unexpected panic attacks. These panic attacks are intense episodes of fear and anxiety that typically peak within a few minutes. They often come on suddenly, seemingly out of the blue, and can be extremely distressing.
Key features of panic attacks include:
Sudden Fear or Discomfort
A panic attack is characterized by an overwhelming sense of fear or discomfort, often accompanied by a feeling that something terrible is about to happen.
Panic attacks can trigger a range of physical sensations, such as a racing heart, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, chest pain or discomfort, dizziness, and nausea.
During a panic attack, individuals may experience a sense of unreality, detachment from their surroundings, or fear of losing control.
To cope with the intense anxiety, people with panic disorder may engage in behaviors like pacing, restlessness, or attempts to escape the situation.
After experiencing one or more panic attacks, individuals often develop anticipatory anxiety, fearing the possibility of future panic attacks. This fear can be distressing and may lead to avoidance of certain situations or places.
It’s important to note that while panic attacks are a central symptom of panic disorder, individuals may also experience persistent worry about having future attacks or may change their behavior to avoid situations they associate with panic. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of panic disorder, seeking professional help is essential. Effective treatments, such as therapy and, in some cases, medication, can help individuals manage and overcome panic disorder.
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