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What is Panic Disorder?

DR. ESSLIN TERRIGHENA identifies the diagnostic criteria for panic disorder.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th edition (DSM-V) defined panic disorder as an anxiety disorder in which individuals experience sudden, recurrent panic attacks. To qualify for the diagnosis, individuals have to have at least one panic attack followed by a minimum of one month in which individuals are significantly fearful of another panic attack occurring, and there is a significant maladaptive behavioural change due to the attack. For example, a person may avoid certain places, people, or situations for fear of having another attack. The attacks must not be a result of substances, medication, medical conditions, or other mental health disorders.

Panic attacks can be separated by expected versus unexpected. Expected panic attacks occur in response to cues associated with certain fears. For example, a person with a fear of dogs may experience a sudden panic attack when a dog runs up to them. Conversely, unexpected panic attacks occur with no obvious cue.

The DSM-V defines a panic attack as an abrupt surge of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes and has four or more of the following symptoms:

· Heart palpitations, or enhanced heartrate

· Sweating

· Trembling or shaking

· Shortness of breath

· Feelings of choking

· Chest pain

· Nausea

· Light-headedness

· Chills or heat

· Tingling

· Dissociation

· Fear of losing control or ‘going crazy’

· Fear of dying

If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of panic disorder and want to find help, please book a consultation with Dr. Terrighena on (852) 2521 4668 or

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