Panic Disorder is essentially the inappropriate activation of our “fight or flight” response.
Panic attacks are often unpredictable and are intense attacks of anxiety. However they may also occur in situations which we know are likely to make us anxious. They are generally shortlived due to the sheer amount of energy and adrenaline expended, duration may be up to 10 minutes. There may be an impending sense of doom and the activation of cognitive distortions that lead to beliefs that we may be dying, going to faint, going mad or that we may lose control.
Physical sensations may include palpitations, sweating, dry mouth, muscle tension and pain, trembling, dizziness, faintness and breathlessness.
It is frequently the case that sufferers misinterpret these feelings for symptoms of serious physical illness and this leads to further escalation of anxiety.