Sunday, 9 February 2014

What Are The Main Panic Disorder Diagnostic Criteria

Panic disorder is a condition which involves recurrent unexpected panic attacks which cause the sufferer concern and distress, and cause a significant change in the behaviour of the patient. Panic attacks which are caused by a quantifiable outside source, such as medication, are not considered to cause panic disorder.

The key panic disorder diagnostic criteria are considered to be the occurrence of some or all of the following symptoms. The symptoms tend to develop suddenly and reach a peak within a few minutes:

  • Palpitations or a greatly increased heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Feelings of being smothered or short of breath
  • Choking sensation
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea or stomach pain
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling detached or as if your surroundings are not real
  • Fear of loss of control
  • Fear of death
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Hot or cold flushes

Patients who meet four or more of the above described panic disorder diagnostic criteria are considered to have a panic disorder under the DSM-IV. The diagnostic criteria may be altered slightly under future versions of the DSM, however they are unlikely to change significantly.

The most common symptom of a panic attack is an accelerated heart rate, which is reported by 97% of patients. Dizziness is the second most common symptom, and paresthesias (numbness and tingling) is the third most common symptom. A patient must have multiple panic attacks, and must have persistent concern over the possibility of future attacks, for the attacks to be classified as part of a disorder.

In some cases, a patient may suffer from panic attacks but not be diagnosed as having panic disoder, because the attacks can be accounted for by a different disorder. For example, someone with Social Phobia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or a Specific Phobia may suffer from panic attacks as a result of their condition. In this case, the attack can be accounted for by exposure to a feared or discomfiting situation. Such sufferers can often learn to manage their panic attacks as a part of learning to cope with their existing condition.

Panic disorder is a serious but manageable condition that can affect both adults and children. If you think that you or someone you know suffers from panic disorder, seek advice from a qualified medical professional as soon as possible and explain which panic disorder diagnostic criteria you feel they meet. In many cases, people with panic disorder can learn to control their condition and go on to lead relatively normal lives with outside assistance.

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