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When should I call my doctor if I have panic attacks and panic disorder?

If you have panic attacks and panic disorder, you should call your doctor immediately if:
  • Your symptoms are interfering with your daily life, work, relationships or self-esteem.
  • You are having suicidal thoughts.
  • You are not sure if your symptoms are actually due to a serious medical emergency (such as a heart attack).
Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder that causes repeated bouts of intense fear that something bad is about to happen (panic attacks), even when there is no real danger present. Panic attacks may last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or so, but usually ease off after 10 minutes. Symptoms of panic attacks can mimic the symptoms of a heart attack, including shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, dizziness or feeling faint, numbness in the face or extremities, heart palpitations or feelings of a racing heart, sweating, chills, trembling or shaking.

Panic attacks are also associated with certain fears and feelings, including possibly:
  • fear of dying or impending doom
  • fear of losing control
  • feelings of choking
  • feelings of detachment or a sense of unreality
People who have panic disorder can improve and live a normal life with treatment that may include therapy and medications. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.