Font Size
A
A
A

Panic Attacks (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care

For someone who may be experiencing their first panic attack, a call to the doctor's office or 911 is warranted. The idea is to make sure that the cause of the person's distress is not a heart attack, asthma problem, endocrine emergency, or other dangerous medical condition.

  • A medical professional is the only person who should make the diagnosis of panic attack. There is no such thing as a "wasted" visit to the doctor in this case. It is better to be told that the diagnosis is panic attack than to assume that someone is panicking and be proved wrong.

Almost everyone experiencing symptoms of a panic attack needs evaluation. Unless the person has a history of having panic attacks, is otherwise healthy, and is experiencing a typical attack, they must be evaluated promptly by a doctor. The level of evaluation depends on many factors. Err on the side of safety when deciding whether to go to a hospital's emergency department.

  • Even for medical professionals, the diagnosis of a panic attack is known as a diagnosis of exclusion. This simply means that before the doctor can be comfortable with the diagnosis of panic attack, all other possible causes of the symptoms need to be considered and ruled out.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/10/2014

Must Read Articles Related to Panic Attacks

Anxiety
Anxiety Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension, fear, or worry. Some fears and worries are justified, such as worry about a loved one. Anxiety may occur without a cause, ...learn more >>
Hyperventilation
Hyperventilation Hyperventilation syndrome is a condition where a person hyperventilates for an unknown cause. Symptoms of hyperventilation syndrome include bloating, burping, p...learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Panic Attacks:

Panic Attacks - Effective Treatments

What kinds of treatments have been effective for your panic attacks?

Panic Attack - Symptoms

What are your panic attack symptoms?




Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Panic Disorder »

Panic disorder is characterized by the spontaneous and unexpected occurrence of panic attacks, the frequency of which can vary from several attacks a day to only a few attacks a year.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


Medical Dictionary