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Panic Disorder: The Benefits of Early Diagnosis

by Dr. Blumberg on February 1, 2011

The Natural Progression of Undiagnosed Panic Disorder

* Susan, a 29 year old married nurse, was shopping in a nearby mall when all of a sudden, “Out of the Blue” She felt woozy. The dizzy spell and heat waves swept over her and she feared she would “faint on the spot.” When her lips, suddenly, turned numb and a tingling sensation spread over her arms and legs, she was convinced she was having a “Stroke,”  She called her husband on her cell phone and he immediately picked her up and drove her to the nearest Emergency Room.  After a 2 hour wait, the ER Doctor conducted a complete medical investigation.  At the conclusion of the evaluation, The Doctor reassured her she was fine and suggested she see her Primary Care Doctor.

Uncertainty about the Cause of Panic Attack Symptoms Fuels the “Fear of Fear”

Susan knew she was not fine.  She wondered “What caused such a strong surge of lightheadedness and weakness in the mall?”  “What if it happens again, when I am out and can’t get immediate medical attention? What if the Doctor missed something and I have an undetected underlying neurological disease?”

Uncertainty about the Cause of Panic Attack Symptoms Fuels the Misattribution of Arousal

Susan now started to let her mind run away from her.  A myriad of dreaded disease with symptoms of numbness, tingling and lightheadedness flooded her mind.  The more she dwelled on catastrophic, life threatening illnesses, the more her physical symptoms intensified.  Now, she started to develop new symptoms of jelly legs and head pressure and her health anxiety skyrocketed.

Escape and Avoidance of Trapped Situations

While out shopping again in one of her favorite department stores, Susan started to feel just a touch of weak knees.  She, abruptly, ended her shopping excursion and immediately drove back home.  She felt a wave of relief when she parked her car in the driveway.  She thought, “I just made it back home in the nick of time.”  Now, Susan became apprehensive about going out shopping alone and decided only to go with a safe person, like her husband or her dear friend.  In this way, if she needed immediate help, she could depend on a reliable person to take her to the hospital. Soon, she became more fearful about leaving the house alone and began to limit her travel from home.

Four Potential Consequences of Undiagnosed Panic Disorder

  • Undiagnosed panic disorder, can lead to the fear of future attacks and anticipatory anxiety
  • This anticipatory anxiety can trigger panic attacks and the urge to escape to a safe place
  • Escaping from a situation to get help can lead to situational panic attacks in that escaped situation in the future
  • Avoidance of “Trapped Situations” where immediate escape is difficult (e.g. crowds) can follow

Use The Panic Checklist As a Brief Screening Instrument to Help Confirm a Diagnosis of Panic Disorder

Four Potential Benefits of Early Diagnosis of Panic Disorder: Prevent the Progression of Panic Disorder

  • Reduction of uncertainty and health worry about the cause of panic attack symptoms
  • Reduction of Doctor Doubt and Doctor Shopping for a correct diagnosis
  • Prevention of the development of escape and phobic avoidance of trapped situations
  • Immediate opportunity to discover your core emotional trigger for panic attacks

As soon as you are certain you fit the panic profile and accept a diagnosis of panic disorder, the doubting and questioning about what is causing panic attack symptoms can lessen.  You learn you are not alone. Millions of people are just like you.  Now, scientifically validated medication free highly effective training programs are available.

Early diagnosis can prevent the progression of panic disorder. The fear of fear and phobic avoidance can be short circuited.  With diagnosis at the point of onset, there is a rich opportunity to discover your missing link, the core emotional source of panic disorder.

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, connect at

*References to real persons, places and events are made in a fictional context, and are not intended in any way to be libelous, defamatory or in any way factual. 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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