Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
The American Psychiatric Association's official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV, Treatment Revision (DSM-IV-TR) defines a panic attack as a discrete period of intense fear, distress, nervousness or discomfort, in which
four (or more) of the following symptoms develop abruptly and reach a peak within 10 minutes:
Some of these symptoms will most likely be present in a panic attack. The
attacks can be so disabling that the person is unable to express to others what
is happening to them. A doctor might also note various signs of panic: The
person may appear to be very afraid or shaky or be hyperventilating (deep, rapid
breathing that causes dizziness).
Anxiety attacks that take place while sleeping, also called nocturnal panic
attacks, occur less often than do panic attacks during the daytime, but affect
about 40%-70% of people who suffer from daytime panic attacks. Individuals with
nocturnal panic attacks tend to have more respiratory symptoms associated with
panic and have more symptoms of depression and of other psychiatric disorders
compared to people who do not have panic attacks at night. Nocturnal panic attacks tend to result in sufferers waking suddenly from sleep in a state of sudden fright or dread for no known reason. As opposed to people with sleep apnea and other sleep disorders, sufferers of nocturnal panic can have all the other symptoms of a panic attack. Although nocturnal panic attacks usually last no more than 10 minutes, it can take much longer for the person to fully recover from the episode.
Recent literature suggests that men and women may
experience different symptoms during an attack. Women tend to experience a
predominance of respiratory symptoms compared to men.