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This disorder is characterized by recurrent unexpected panic attacks.

The following may also be present:

  1. persistent concern about having additional attacks

  2. worry about the implications of the attack or its consequences (e.g., losing control, having a heart attacks, “going crazy”)

  3. a significant change in behavior related to the attack

In some individuals the attacks may be precipitated by being in places or situations from which escape might be difficult (or embarrassing) or in which help may not be available in the event of having an unexpected panic attack. This condition is referred to as agoraphobia.

Treatment is usually very effective. It consists of medications, Cognitive Therapy, and such Behavior therapies as Applied Relaxation, Respiratory Training, and In Vivo Exposure. The most commonly used medications are: SSRIs (Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, Luvox, Celexa, Lexapro some others), Benzodiazepines (Ativan, Xanax, Valium, Klonopin), Tricyclic antidepressants (Clomipramine, Desipramine, Imipramine), BuSpar, Effexor, Serzone, and Valproic acid. Atenolol and Propranolol can be used to control body autonomic reactions, for example, tachycardia.

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