If you've had signs or symptoms of a panic attack, make an appointment with your primary care provider. After an initial evaluation, your doctor may refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist for treatment.
Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do in advance
- Make a list of your symptoms, including when they first occurred and how often you've had them.
- Write down key personal information, including traumatic events in your past and any stressful, major events that occurred before your first panic attack.
- Write down medical information, including other physical or mental health conditions that you have and the names of any medications you're taking.
- Ask a trusted family member or friend to go with you to your appointment, if possible, to lend support and help you remember information.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Questions to ask your doctor at your first appointment
- What do you believe is causing my symptoms?
- Is it possible that an underlying medical problem is causing my symptoms?
- Do I need any diagnostic tests?
- Should I see a mental health specialist?
- Is there anything I can do now to help manage my symptoms?
Questions to ask if you're referred to a mental health provider
- Do I have panic attacks or panic disorder?
- What treatment approach do you recommend?
- If you're recommending therapy, how often will I need it and for how long?
- Would group therapy be helpful in my case?
- If you're recommending medications, are there any possible side effects?
- For how long will I need to take medication?
- How will you monitor whether my treatment is working?
- What can I do now to reduce the risk of my panic attacks recurring?
- Are there any self-care steps I can take to help manage my condition?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me?
- What websites do you recommend visiting?
Don't hesitate to ask for more information any time you don't understand something.
What to expect from your doctor
A doctor or mental health provider who sees you for possible panic attacks or panic disorder may ask:
May 31, 2012
- What are your symptoms, and when did they first occur?
- How often do your attacks occur, and how long do they last?
- Does anything in particular seem to trigger an attack?
- How often do you experience fear of another attack?
- Do you avoid the locations or experiences that seem to trigger an attack?
- How do your symptoms affect your life, including school, work and personal relationships?
- Did you experience significant stress or a traumatic event shortly before your first panic attack?
- Have you experienced significant trauma — such as physical or sexual abuse or military battle — in your lifetime?
- How would you describe your childhood, including your relationship with your parents?
- Have you or any of your close relatives been diagnosed with a mental health problem, including panic attacks or panic disorder?
- Have you been diagnosed with any medical conditions?
- Do you use caffeine, alcohol or recreational drugs? How often?
- Do you exercise?
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