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How Is Panic Disorder Detected?
Panic disorder most often sets in during adulthood, with most people experiencing their first panic attacks after the age of 20. Panic attacks and panic disorder are not entirely uncommon in children and adolescents, however. The early signs of the disorder are often misdiagnosed, and adolescent sufferers sometimes don’t get appropriate treatment until the disorder has caused severe disruption to their lives. Given that treatment is very often successful at controlling panic attacks, early detection and proper diagnosis can prevent the disorder from having a severe impact.
Potential early signs of panic disorder in young people include:
- Separation anxiety, or a fear of leaving home
- Disinterest in or a fear of going to school
- Decline in grades
- Withdrawal from social activities
- Depression or a persistent low mood
- Panic attack symptoms (racing heart, sweating, etc.) with no discernible physical cause
- Substance abuse
Panic disorder is generally easier to diagnose in adults, but recognition of early symptoms in conjunction with risk factors can help to speed the path to diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.
Early signs and risk factors for panic disorder in adults include:
- Sudden, unexpected feelings of fear without an obvious cause
- Physical symptoms such as elevated heart rate, sweating, trembling, dizziness, chills, etc.
- A growing fear of specific situations such as crowded places
- Persistent fear of having another panic attack
- Avoidance of situations that might cause a panic attack
- Problems at work or in school because of changes in behavior
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