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.
What you can do
Before your appointment, make a list of:
- Your symptoms, including when they first occurred and how often you've had them
- Key personal information, including traumatic events in your past and any stressful, major events that occurred before your first panic attack
- Medical information, including other physical or mental health conditions that you have
- Medications, vitamins and other supplements and the dosages
- Questions to ask your doctor
Ask a trusted family member or friend to go with you to your appointment, if possible, to lend support and help you remember information.
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 have?
- What websites do you recommend?
Don't hesitate to ask any other questions.
What to expect from your doctor
A doctor or mental health provider may ask:
May 19, 2015
- 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 locations or experiences that seem to trigger an attack?
- How do your symptoms affect your life, such as school, work and personal relationships?
- Did you experience major stress or a traumatic event shortly before your first panic attack?
- Have you ever experienced major trauma, such as physical or sexual abuse or military battle?
- 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 or do other types of regular physical activity?
- Panic disorder. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed April 20, 2015.
- Ciechanowski P. Panic disorder: Epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, course, assessment, and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 21, 2015.
- Panic disorder: When fear overwhelms. National Institute of Mental Health. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/panic-disorder-when-fear-overwhelms/index.shtml. Accessed April 20, 2015.
- Answers to your questions about panic disorder. American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/topics/anxiety/panic-disorder.aspx. Accessed April 20, 2015.
- Craske M. Psychotherapy for panic disorder. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 21, 2015.
- Inositol. National Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://naturaldatabase.com. Accessed April 20, 2015.
- Gaudlitz K, et al. Aerobic exercise training facilitates the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy in panic disorder. Depression and Anxiety. 2015;32:221.
- Vorkapic CF, et al. Reducing the symptomatology of panic disorder: The effects of a yoga program alone and in combination with cognitive-behavioral therapy. Frontiers in Psychiatry. 2014;5:1.
- Roy-Byrne PP. Pharmacotherapy for panic disorder. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 21, 2015.
- Clonazepam, alprazolam, venlafaxine hydrochloride, fluoxetine hydrochloride, paroxetine mesylate, paroxetine hydrochloride, sertraline hydrochloride. Micromedex 2.0 Healthcare Series. http://www.micromedexsolutions.com. Accessed April 22, 2015.
- Sawchuk CA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 8, 2015.
- Hall-Flavin DK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 11, 2015.
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