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How Do I Know I Have Panic Disorder?

by Dr. Blumberg on April 2, 2011

Even though your physician has reassured you over and over again that you are in good physical health

The Panic Symptom Checklist

  • Do you wake up in the morning with heart pounding and shortness of breath and wonder, why am I feeling this way?
  • Do you get lightheaded before you leave to go out and worry that you might faint at the wheel?
  • Do you feel dizzy, shortness of breath, rubbery legs, jelly legs and fear your legs will give out and you will make a scene in public?
  • Do you feel so spacey, and such inner trembling inside your body that you are convinced you are on the verge of a nervous breakdown?
  • Do you feel so hot and shaky that you worry you will freak out in public?
  • Does your body feel so numb and tingly that you are convinced you are having a stroke?

The False Catastrophic Though Checklist

  • When you feel shallow breathing, do you immediately conclude that you cannot get enough air, and fear you will stop breathing and suffocate?
  • When you feel numbness and tingling throughout your body, do you worry these symptoms are signs of a brain aneurysm?
  • When you feel there/not there, inner trembling and disorientation, do you worry you will lose your mind, not know who or where you are, get locked up in a mental ward and never see your loved ones again?
  • When you feel a lump in the throat do you worry that your throat will close up and you will choke to death?
  • When your heart pounds wildly and you feel heaviness in your chest, do you fear a heart attack is imminent?
  • When you feel tightness in your head, like your head is in a vice, do you believe you have a brain tumor?
  • When you feel nausea and queasiness do you worry you will get sick in public?

The Vicious Cycle of Panic

  • When you heart starts racing and you think heart attack, does your heart race even faster?
  • When you feel tightness in the throat and you think you will choke to death, does your throat get tighter?
  • When you feel dizzy and you think you are about to faint, do your dizzy feeling intensify?
  • When you feel rubbery legs and you worry your legs will give out, do your legs get even more rubbery?

Does Panic Have You On the Run?

  • Do you worry about how you will feel before you go out?
  • Do you avoid crowds, long lines, public transportation and social gatherings?
  • Do avoid trapped situations where you cannot escape quickly if panic attack symptoms strike suddenly?
  • Do you arrange your life so you can get out quickly if panic strikes?
  • Do you prefer the back row aisle seat in church or at the theatre?
  • Do you avoid highway driving or air travel?
  • Do you fear getting panic attack symptoms where you are all alone?
  • Do you rely on calling a safe person when you feel panic attack symptoms?

Early Diagnosis Improves Quality of Care

If you fit the above panic profile, consult your doctor to confirm a diagnosis of panic disorder and rule out medical causes for your symptoms. Early diagnosis of panic disorder can prevent the progression of panic disorder and shorten suffering and the time spent getting better.

The ideas in this blog are developed from Dr. Blumberg’s panicLINK Program.  PanicLINK is a comprehensive, twelve session, four phase, multi-media educational program on panic disorder. The material in this Blog and the panicLINK Program are copyright protected by Out of the Blue Network, LLC. No permission is granted to reproduce this blog for commercial purposes. For more information about the panicLINK Program, connect at

* This educational information should always be used in consultation with your doctor to confirm a diagnosis and review available treatments for panic disorder.




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