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Panic attacks often confused with other medical issues

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Monday, 08 December 2008

HOUSTON  -- The symptoms of panic attacks are frequently confused by physicians with other problems, indicating a need for better education in the area, said researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, who surveyed physicians on the topic. A report of their study appears in the online version of the Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings.

"Because symptoms of panic attacks can be confused with those of other medical problems related to the heart and gastrointestinal tract as well as neurological problems, a lack of knowledge about panic attacks can lead to unnecessary referrals and tests," said Dr. Ellen Teng, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at BCM and clinical research psychologist at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center.


Survey responses

Researchers evaluated 95 surveys received from cardiologists, gastroenterologists and neurologists in the Houston area. The survey questions included information about those most at risk for panic attacks and treatment options.

The physicians answered only half of the survey questions about panic attacks correctly. There was no difference in knowledge among the three specialty groups.

While 94 percent recognized medication as a way to treat panic and anxiety symptoms, only about 30 percent recognized cognitive behavioral therapy to educate patients about panic attacks and their symptoms and give them tools to deal with the problem as the treatment of choice.

Long-term treatment

"Medication does treat the short-term aspects of panic attacks such as shortness of breath and a racing heart, but cognitive behavioral therapy treats panic disorder in the long-term," said Teng.

Only slightly more than half of the physicians surveyed believed that psychologists could treat panic attacks directly and effectively through this technique.

Teng called for increased awareness of panic disorder among physicians. Teng also recommends providing resources and literature for physicians to make appropriate referrals to psychologists.

Full Article: http://www.bcm.edu/news/item.cfm?newsID=1267

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okbeckster2 said:

Panic Attacks often confused with other Medical Illness
I had my first panic attack at age 9. At 30 I was diagnosed by a cardiologist as having Barlowe's Syndrome, a heart valve defect. By the time my panic disorder was diagnosed and I began treatment, I had seen a cardiologist, two internists and a number of other MD's. Panic attack, especially when it is accompanied by gastric distress and tachycardia is misdiagnosed, not out of ignorance on the part of the medical community, but most doctors look "for horses, not zebras". These well meaning physicans were treating the symptoms they saw, not looking for the root cause. I have been in recovery from panic for almost five years, an amazing feat for me, when at times during my life I had symptoms daily. It is a testament to good treatment and good medicine, that I am able to work full time as a Peer Recovery Support Specialist at a community mental health center. As part of my community outreach, I speak regularly in hospitals and other professional medical associations about panic disorder and the nature of the symptoms. I feel blessed that my illness is successfully treated by medication and that I am able to live a full life without the daily fear which kept me "inside and hidden" for so long!
December 15, 2008
Votes: +1

Panic Guy said:

Panic attacks are sometimes confused with other health problems
This is really true, especially that there are a lot of physical symptoms that occurs during a panic. For example, dizziness, fast heart beat, difficulty of breathing and the likes. Typically, most people believe that they are going to experience a heart attack. However, these symptoms can be cured as well as the panic attack itself in many ways. But sufferers should always remember to go the natural way of curing panic attacks. Hence, if you want to know some of these methods then it would be best to visit this website: http://www.panicsurvivor.com/i...e-it.html.
January 17, 2013 | url
Votes: +0

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