Am I Experiencing Panic Attacks?
Panic attacks are discrete episodes of intense fear or apprehension. They are accompanied by the rapid and concurrent onset of characteristic symptoms such as sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, fear of losing control or going mad, and fear of imminent death. Am I Experiencing Panic Attacks? is an indicative screening questionnaire designed to help clients self-assess whether their experiences might warrant further investigation.
Panic attacks are experienced by nearly 1 out of every 4 people at some point in their life (Kessler, Chiu, Jin, et al, 2006) but like many anxiety disorders, they are under-diagnosed and often go unrecognized (Kasper, 2006).
The DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for a panic attack include:
- An abrupt surge of intense fear or intense discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes, and during which time 4 (or more) of the following symptoms occur:
- Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
- Trembling or shaking
- Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
- Feelings of choking
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Nausea or abdominal distress
- Feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed, or faint
- Chills or heat sensations
- Paresthesias (numbness or tingling sensations)
- Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from one-self)
- Fear of losing control or “going crazy”
- Fear of dying
The ICD-11 diagnostic criteria for panic attacks include:
- A discrete episode of intense fear or apprehension characterized by the rapid and concurrent onset of several characteristic symptoms:
- Palpitations, pounding heart, or an accelerated heart rate
- Sensations of shortness of breath
- Feelings of choking
- Chest pain
- Nausea or abdominal distress (e.g., churning in stomach)
- Feelings of dizziness or light-headedness
- Chills or hot flushes
- Tingling or lack of sensation in extremities
- Depersonalization or derealization
- Fear of losing control or going mad
- Fear of imminent death
Am I Experiencing Panic Attacks? is an indicative screening tool, designed to help clients self-assess whether their experiences might warrant further investigation. It is not intended to give a formal diagnosis or provide a measure of severity.
"Some people who describe symptoms like yours suffer from panic attacks. Would you like to try a short quiz that could give us an idea whether this is a problem that troubles you?"
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).
- Kasper, S. (2006). Anxiety disorders: under-diagnosed and insufficiently treated. International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice, 10(sup1), 3-9.
- Kessler, R. C., Chiu, W. T., Jin, R., Ruscio, A. M., Shear, K., & Walters, E. E. (2006). The epidemiology of panic attacks, panic disorder, and agoraphobia in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Archives of general psychiatry, 63(4), 415-424.
- Stansfeld, S., Clark, C., Bebbington, P., King, M., Jenkins, R., & Hinchliffe, S. (2016). Chapter 2: Common mental disorders. In S. McManus, P. Bebbington, R. Jenkins, & T. Brugha (Eds.), Mental health and wellbeing in England: Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014. Leeds: NHS Digital.
- World Health Organization. (2019). ICD-11: International classification of diseases (11th revision). Retrieved from https://icd.who.int/