Information related to Panic Attack as well as the specific symptoms follow below. While some of these Panic Attack symptoms may be recognized by family, teachers, legal and medical professionals, and others, only properly trained mental health professionals (psychologists, psychiatrists, professional counselors etc.) can or should even attempt to make a mental health diagnosis. A multitude of factors are considered in addition to the psychological symptoms in making a proper diagnosis, including medical and psychological testing considerations. This information is for information purposes only and should never replace the judgment and comprehensive assessment of a trained mental health clinician.
Panic Attack Specifier:
Note: Symptoms are presented for the purpose of identifying a panic attack; however, panic attack is not a mental disorder and cannot be coded. Panic attacks can occur in the context of an anxiety disorder as well as other mental disorders such as depressive disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, substance use disorders and some medical conditions such as cardiac, respiratory, vestibular, and gastrointestinal. When the presence of a panic attack is identified, it should be noted as a specifier such as in posttraumatic stress disorder with panic attacks. For panic disorder, the presence of panic attack is contained within the criteria for the disorder and panic attack is not used as a specifier.
An abrupt surge of intense fear or intense discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes, during which time four (or more) of the following symptoms occur:
Note: The abrupt surge can occur from a calm state or an anxious state.
1. Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate.
3. Trembling or shaking.
4. Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering.
5. Feelings of choking.
6. Chest pain or discomfort.
7. Nausea or abdominal distress.
8. Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint.
9. Chills or heat sensations.
10. Paresthesias (numbness or tingling sensations).
11. Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from one’s self).
12. Fear of losing control or “going crazy.”
13. Fear of dying.
Note: Culture specific symptoms such as tinnitus, neck soreness, headache, or uncontrollable screaming or crying may be seen. Such symptoms should not count as one of the four required symptoms.
Diagnostic Information and Criterion from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition American Psychological Association