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Anxiety and Stress Disorders

Identifying A Panic Disorder

12/04/2006

Question:

I am a 51 year old woman going through menapause. In the last few weeks I have had 3 "attacks". I start getting a tingly feeling in my hands and feet and an over all "just feel not right" feeling. Then my feet get cold and clammy and I feel a little numbness from my feet up my legs. I am hot I am cold (this is not the hot flashes I have already been experiencing) I feel like I need to burp or that any food I may have eaten is sitting at the bottom of my throat. I thought maybe I was having a heart attack. I have been to my internist given high blood pressure medicine (mine is somewhat elevated) and been to a neurologist and had an EEG. All the tests are negative. My symptoms can last as long as 6 hours or more, this usually starts early afternoon (never in the morning)and reaches its worst stage in the evening. Is this a panic/anxiety attack in your opinion?

Answer:

Your symptoms certainly could be related to a panic disorder, but I cannot make such a diagnosis over the internet.  It was appropriate for you to see you primary care provider, and it would probably be reasonable to go back to this person with your concerns about anxiety or panic.

I encourage you to visit the web sites at the National Institute for Mental Health and the Anxiety Disorders of America -- these sites do a good job describing panic disorder and you can get a better idea as to whether your symptoms match those commonly seen with anxiety disorders.

The good news is that anxiety and panic are both treatable disorders -- both medications and therapy are both effective in decreasing symptoms of anxiety in you life.  I encourage you to read more about these problems, talk to your primary care provider and also visit a mental health professional.

Good luck.

Related Resources:

NIH NIMH anxiety
Anxiety Disorders of America

For more information:

Go to the Anxiety and Stress Disorders health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Nancy   Elder, MD Nancy Elder, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati