A panic attack is discrete paroxysm of severe anxiety which is associated with unpleasant symptoms of autonomic arousal.
Panic disorder is diagnosed when panic attacks occur:
- without an obvious precipitant
- in the absence of other psychiatric illness
NICE suggest that there is a stepped care for panic disorder (2)
- Step 1 - recognition and diagnosis
- Step 2 - treatment in primary care
- Step 3 - review and consideration of alternative treatments
- Step 4 - review and referral to specialist mental health services
- Step 5 - care in specialist mental health services
- according to the DSM-IV-TR , a fundamental characteristic of panic disorder
is the presence of recurring, unforeseen panic attacks followed by at least
1 month of persistent worry about having another panic attack and concern
about the consequences of a panic attack, or a significant change in behaviour
related to the attacks
- at least two unexpected panic attacks are necessary for diagnosis and the attacks should not be accounted for by the use of a substance, a general medical condition or another psychological problem
- panic disorder can be diagnosed with or without agoraphobia.
- 1) American Psychiatric Association (2000) Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (fourth edition, text revision). Washington DC: American Psychiatric Association.
- 2) NICE (January 2011). Generalised anxiety disorder and panic disorder (with or without agoraphobia) in adults
Last reviewed 01/2018