Panic attacks leads to Panic Disorder

Panic attacks leads to Panic Disorder

Panic attacks lead to Panic Disorder (Form of severe anxiety)

“I am a 40-year-old married having 2 children, an executive working as CEO of the multinational company here in UAE. My childhood and college life were not more than normal up-downs living and studying in France and moving around in Europe.

Until one summer while I was riding my bicycle on the Jumeirah beach road and while in hot weather and fell off the bicycle and fainted taken to the Emergency room and treated for dehydration.

I started having worsening anxiety disproportionate feeling nervous while in the board meetings and gradually feeling nervous while talking to my team members, once I had a feeling of severe anxiety along with palpitation, shortness of breath, vague pain symptoms in the chest and feeling like going to die. Emergency room visit and diagnostic test all negative and no medical problem found.

Above situation repeated and a few weeks later until I visited a psychiatrist and he found out I had panic attacks and it is treatable.”

This is the story of one of my patients.

Symptoms of a panic attack:

A panic attack is an abrupt surge of intense fear or intense discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes, and during which time 4 or more of the following symptoms occur.

  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feelings of choking
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Feeling dizzy or faint
  • Chills or heat sensations
  • Paresthesia
  • Derealization
  • Fear of losing control or “going crazy”
  • Fear of dying


Panic attacks are almost always present as unexpectedly increasing symptoms in 10-20 minutes and appears to be escalating without interruption.

Situation bound or triggers of previous traumatic experience or anticipation of a repetition of the traumatic experience.

Almost always self-limiting and until it becomes so severe and changes into constant worrying and feeling impaired or unable to function. Continuous fear of having another panic attack and unreasonable worries is Panic Disorder.

Adolescent and young adults may self-treat and leads to substance abuse or prescription drugs abuse. This is very important to seek mental health professional advice and regularize the treatment to avoid further complications.

In the Western hemisphere, 2-3% adults and adolescent can have panic attacks, while it is less common in children, a median age of development of this disorder is 20-24 with a female preponderance.

Panic Disorder in Children:

Although panic disorder is more frequent in older adolescents and adults, it does occur in children. Unrecognized and untreated panic disorder can have a devastating impact on a child’s life and does interfere with normal development, schoolwork, and relationships.

Reluctant to go to school and other age-appropriate activities and fear of unknown and constant worries if the treatment is delayed.

Depression and in severe cases suicidal ideation can occur in adolescent and children’s.

A possibility of a genetic link to the development of anxiety has been supported through twin studies. Parents who are anxious may contribute further to higher anxiety levels in their children by showing anxious behaviour and maladaptive coping skills.

Biologic vulnerability and the repeated stressful situation may dispose of the anxiety disorders in addition to panic attacks and disorder.

The first panic attack is almost always preceded by the stressful event such as a death of a parents or near and dear one, changing new school, and or moving to another country locations etc.


In one small sample, almost 70% of children were recovered from panic disorders while 30% had further complications may be related to delay in seeking treatment.


Educating the children and adults about the recognition of symptoms and seeking help early on, can help avoid complications and better treatment results. Symptoms may present like,

Shortness of breath and palpitation.

Nausea vomiting and or diarrhoea.

Hot or cold feeling.

Feeling urgency in urination.

Feeling choking “lump in the throat”.

This is too much for me.

I may die of the attack.

People are watching me, and this is embracing.

It will never end.

Treatment strategies:

Individual and family-based Cognitive behaviour approach and supportive treatment in alliance with the therapist is the mainstay.

However, in severe cases, medication treatment in addition to the above approach may be needed.

Prognosis is fair to good with treatment compliance and alliance with well trained professional.

Should you require additional information or would like to make an appointment with Dr. Tahir, please e-mail us at

Disclaimer: All contents on this site are for general information and in no circumstances, information be substituted for professional advice from the relevant healthcare professional, Writer does not take responsibility of any damage done by the misuse or use of the information. (Please call Emergency response system or go to the nearest Emergency Room in Case of Emergency).