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What is the first step in treating panic attacks?

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The racing heartbeat or other discomforts that go with an attack can resemble other illnesses, such as heart disease. So your doctor will probably start by giving you a complete physical exam. That way, he or she can make sure that the symptoms aren’t coming from a disease you didn’t know about. If no medical condition like that shows up, your doctor may send you to talk to a psychologist or psychiatrist trained to recognize when someone has been having panic attacks. Your doctor will combine the counselor’s input with her own observations to diagnose what’s wrong. When someone has attacks repeatedly, doctors call the condition panic disorder.

SOURCES:

American Psychological Association: “Answers to Your Questions about Panic Disorder.”

Anxiety and Depression Association of America: “Panic Disorder & Agoraphobia.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Panic disorder.”

Mayo Clinic: “Panic attacks and panic disorder.”

National Institute of Mental Health (National Institutes of Health): “Anxiety disorders,” “Panic Disorder: When Fear Overwhelms.”

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg on June 26, 2017

SOURCES:

American Psychological Association: “Answers to Your Questions about Panic Disorder.”

Anxiety and Depression Association of America: “Panic Disorder & Agoraphobia.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Panic disorder.”

Mayo Clinic: “Panic attacks and panic disorder.”

National Institute of Mental Health (National Institutes of Health): “Anxiety disorders,” “Panic Disorder: When Fear Overwhelms.”

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg on June 26, 2017

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How can counseling help with panic attacks?

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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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