What is adult panic anxiety syndrome?

Adult panic anxiety syndrome is a psychiatric disorder characterized by recurring episodes of debilitating fear and anxiety known as panic attacks. These can occur without warning and in the absence of any observable threat. Panic attacks can be brief or long-lasting and are often accompanied by physical symptoms, such as chest pain, dizziness, heightened awareness, nausea, racing heart, shortness of breath, and sweating. People who have panic anxiety syndrome may seek medical care because they are worried they are having a heart attack.

Adult panic anxiety syndrome can interfere with a person’s ability to function at work and in social situations. Symptoms can progress to the point that the individual may be unable to leave the home. Depression is a potential complication of adult panic anxiety syndrome. Adult panic anxiety disorders can have symptoms similar to substance abuse and can be complicated by substance abuse.

Although not curable, adult panic anxiety syndrome is treatable. Treatment typically includes a combination of psychotherapy and medications, such as antidepressants or antianxiety medications. Self-care measures, such as avoiding stimulants, eating meals at regular intervals, exercising regularly, and getting plenty of sleep, can also be helpful.

Adult panic anxiety syndrome is more common in women than in men and typically appears in adolescence or early adulthood. The cause is not known, but it can run in families.

Symptoms of adult panic anxiety syndrome can mimic those of diseases of the cardiovascular, respiratory, and other body systems, but these conditions can also be present in someone who has adult panic anxiety syndrome. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms, such as being a danger to oneself or others, chest pain or pressure, confusion or loss of consciousness for even a brief moment, difficulty breathing, dizziness or lightheadedness, profuse sweating, rapid heart rate (tachycardia), seizures, severe anxiety, severe nausea, severe pain, sudden change in vision, or weak pulse.

Adult panic anxiety syndrome can be a disabling condition. Seek prompt medical care if your anxiety or panic attacks are interfering with your ability to work, with your relationships, or with your self-confidence.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of adult panic anxiety syndrome?

Symptoms of adult panic anxiety syndrome can mimic a variety of medical conditions and substance abuse. People in the midst of a panic attack may be concerned they are having a heart attack, losing their mind, or even that they are going to die.... Read more about adult panic anxiety syndromesymptoms

CAUSES

What causes adult panic anxiety syndrome?

The exact cause of adult panic anxiety syndrome is not known. It seems to run in some families, although some people who have it do not have a family history of the condition. It may be related to structural changes in the brain or due to biochemical changes involving the neurotransmitters gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), norepinephrine, and serotonin. Early childhood stress may also be a contributing factor.... Read more about adult panic anxiety syndromecauses

TREATMENTS

How is adult panic anxiety syndrome treated?

Although adult panic anxiety syndrome is not curable, many people are able to find relief of their symptoms with treatment. Typically, treatment involves a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and medications, such as antidepressants.... Read more about adult panic anxiety syndrometreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Mental Health and Behavior