PS280 Midterm: Panic Disorder and Specific Phobia

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14 Aug 2019
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Panic Disorder:
-recurrent and out of the blue sudden rush of intense fear / discomfort; physiological + psychological
symptoms, reaches peak within minutes (can occur from calm or anxious state)
-panic attack is not disorder, occurs in context of other disorders (21% Canadians will experience but
only 1.5% meet criteria for panic disorder)
-panic disorder is diagnosed when at least one panic attack results in significant alteration in behaviour
-usually experience numerous bouts of panic, but at least 2 unexpected attacks required for diagnosis
-usually develops in late teen / early adulthood, though treatment is usually sought around 34 years old
-women twice as likely as men to be affected by panic disorder (across countries)
-panic disorder often comorbid w depression, substance abuse, and agoraphobia (fear of marketplace)
-cardinal feature: individuals initially experience unexpected panic attacks and have marked
apprehension and worry over possibility of having additional panic attacks
-in contrast, panic attacks associated w other disorders are cued by specific situations/feared objects
-medical conditions that create symptoms that mimic panic disorder: hypoglycemia, hyperthyroidism
-behavioural avoidance test (BAT): patients asked to enter situations they would typically avoid and
provide rating of their degree of anticipatory anxiety and actual level of anxiety that they experience
-symptom induction test: ex asked to hyperventilate to bring on symptoms of panic, way of assessing
symptom severity and strategy for exposure treatment
-psychophysiological assessment: include monitoring of heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, and
galvanic skin response while a patient is approaching a feared situation or experiencing a panic attack
-panic disorder and agoraphobia are rooted in biological and psychological factors and tend to run in
families (biological relatives are 5x more likely to develop panic disorder)
-sense of losing control elicited by somatic response may underlie panic-inducing properties
-in case of nocturnal or relaxation-induced attacks, cognitive experience may be a fear of letting go
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