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Psychology 2310A/B Lecture Notes - Panic Attack, Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia

Course Code
Rod Martin

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Anxiety Disorders: Panic Disorder & Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
DSM-IV criteria for Panic Attack
Period of intense fear or discomfort
Develops abruptly, peaks within 10 minutes
4 of 13 symptoms - Laboured breathing, heart palpitations, nausea, chest pain, feelings of
choking and smothering, dizziness, sweating, trembling, feelings of impending doom,
depersonalization, derealization, etc.
DSM-IV Diagnosis of Panic Disorder
Recurrent unexpected panic attacks: aren’t nervous until the panic attack
At least one month of:
Persistent concern about having other attacks
Or worry about the implications of the attacks (losing touch with reality)
Or significant change in behavior related to attacks. (ex: may stop going out in severe
Panic Disorder (cont’d)
Isolated panic attacks are common (everyone will probably have one panic attack in their
Lifetime prevalence: 3-5% of the population
2X as common in women as men
Onset in early adult life (teens to 40)
Bimodal: late teens, 30’s
Chronic course waxing and waning
If agoraphobia develops, usually within 1 yr
Comorbidity with agoraphobia, major depression, GAD, phobias, alcohol dependency,
personality disorders.
Agora = marketplace (today: shopping malls)
Anxiety about being in places where escape would be difficult
E.g., away from home alone, shopping mall, in a crowd, on a bus, standing in line
Usually involves fear of having a panic attack
Person stays home to avoid these situations
Clark’s Cognitive Model of Panic
Trigger perceived threat apprehension bodily sensations catastrophic
misinterpretation of sensations back to perceived threat (vicious cycle)
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
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