Panic attack

A brief period of acute anxiety, often dominated by an intense fear of dying or losing one’s reason. Attacks are unpredictable at first, but tend to become associated with specific situations, such as a cramped lift. Symptoms (a sense of breathing difficulty, chest pains, palpitations, feeling light-headed, dizziness, sweating, trembling, and faintness) begin suddenly. Hyperventilation often occurs, causing a pins-and-needles feeling, and feelings of depersonalization and derealization. The attacks end quickly. Panic attacks are generally a feature of an anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, or other phobias. In some cases, such attacks are part of a somatization disorder or schizophrenia. Behaviour therapy and relaxation exercises may be used in treatment of this condition.


Online Medical Dictionary: Your essential reference to over 5000 medical terms.