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Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia

  • Ellen I. Koch
  • Michelle A. Fernando
Chapter

Abstract

Panic disorder (PD) is characterized by the presence of recurrent unexpected panic attacks and anxiety about their reoccurrence. Panic attacks can be defined as, “an abrupt surge of intense fear or intense discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes” (p. 208, APA, 2013). These involve a wide range of physiological symptoms, such as increased heart rate, shortness of breath, sweating, chest pain, gastrointestinal distress, dizziness, and numbness. The rapid onset of these symptoms is often accompanied by psychological distress, such as the feeling of “going crazy,” losing control, or dying. In addition to panic attacks, a diagnosis of PD necessitates at least 1 month of anxiety or avoidance about future panic attacks. To cope with this fear, the individual may avoid activities that involve physiological arousal, with the belief that arousal will provoke a full panic episode. For example, the individual may avoid physical exercise because these activities often lead to accelerated heart rate, sweating, and shortness of breath, which may also be experienced during a panic attack. In general, PD is characterized by both recurrent panic attacks and a persistent fear or avoidance of future panic episodes.

Keywords

Panic disorder Agoraphobia Cognitive-behavioral therapy Interoceptive exposure Panic screeners Panic control treatment Cognitive therapy In vivo exposure Breathing retraining Cognitive restructuring Safety behaviors Avoidance 

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© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyEastern Michigan UniversityYpsilantiUSA

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