can be difficult. Several other physical and mental disorders are related to panic attacks. You will need a thorough physical and mental evaluation before a proper diagnosis can be made. Diagnosis of panic attack is based on a proper evaluation and the standards outlined in the American Psychiatric Association’s
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
In the DSM-5, panic disorder is defined as repeating, unexpected panic attacks. It is followed by at least one month of concern about having another attack, worry about the consequences of panic attacks, and a change in behavior as a result of the attacks.
Your doctor will conduct an evaluation that may include the following:
Your doctor will ask about the following: Your medical historySymptoms you experience during an attackHow long you have been having the attacksWhen the attacks startedHow often they occurWhen and where they tend to occurHow long they lastWhat effect they have on your ability to function
Evaluation of Medical Disorders
Your doctor will also look for and rule out medical disorders that could cause your symptoms including: HyperthyroidismCardiac arrhythmiasMitral valve prolapseCushing’s syndromeCarcinoid syndromeParkinson’s disease
Heart attackPulmonary embolism
Your doctor should also ask about your intake of: MedicationsFoodsHerbs and supplements
Evaluation for Substance Abuse
Use or withdrawal from addictive substances can cause symptoms of panic. Substances that can cause symptoms of panic include stimulants, such as
and caffeine. Your doctor may also ask about your use of
, addictive medications (particularly sedatives),
, and other substances.
Evaluation of Other Psychiatric Disorders
generalized anxiety disorder
, substance abuse, and personality disorders often occur with panic disorder. You may be evaluated for these and other disorders.
National Institute of Mental Health
website. Available at:
Accessed December 23, 2015.
Moore DP, Jefferson JW.
Handbook of Medical Psychiatry.
2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2004.
Last reviewed December 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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