Panic Disorder : Medical Assistants Class



  • An MA providing care to a patient who is having a panic attack may expect the patient to experience these symptoms:

    Chest pain, shortness of breath, sweating, and nausea

    Rationale: A patient who is having a panic attack may feel very like he needs to “escape” or is dying. He may be short of breath due to hyperventilation. His pulse is rapid and blood pressure elevated. The patient may experience numbness, visual changes and an altered sense of time. Your patient may complain of chest pain and tightness. Nausea, dizziness and sweating are common.

  • Most experts believe that cause of panic disorder is:

    A physical illness that is made worse by stress

    Rationale: The cause of panic disorder is not known. Most experts believe that panic disorder is a physical illness that has a genetic component as it tends to run in families. A first panic attack usually occurs during a period of high stress. Panic episodes are most likely to be more frequent and severe when a person is stressed.

  • A medical exam is needed when patients present with symptoms of panic disorder in order:

    To rule out other health problems

    Rationale: There is no specific test to confirm a diagnosis of panic disorder. A medical exam is needed to ensure the symptoms are not caused by other health problems. Symptoms of other health problems may resemble panic disorder characteristics. A physical exam, mental screening evaluation, EKG, and blood tests are useful.

  • An MA may expect to encounter approximately this many patients suffering from panic disorder:

    One in ten

    Rationale: About twenty percent of Americans experience a panic attack at least once in their lifetimes. Panic disorder affects one in ten patients encountered in primary care settings. Health care workers in all kinds of health care settings may encounter patients who suffer from panic disorder. People suffering from panic disorder most commonly seek help from their primary care providers.

  • The two most effective types of counseling therapies used to treat panic disorder include:

    Cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy

    Rationale: Patients suffering from panic disorder benefit from mental health counseling. Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches patients how to recognize and interrupt a panic attack. Exposure therapy provokes symptoms of panic in order to desensitize patient’s fear of symptoms. An effective treatment plan for panic disorder includes cognitive and behavioral therapies.

  • Panic disorder belongs to a group of illnesses called:

    Anxiety disorders

    Rationale: There are several types of illnesses characterized as anxiety disorders. Panic disorder is one example of an anxiety disorder. Social anxiety disorder, phobias, general anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress syndrome are other types of anxiety disorders.

  • A serious form of panic disorder is called:


    Rationale: Agoraphobia may develop after several panic attacks or it may result from having a single panic attack. Agoraphobia is a crippling form of panic disorder. People who have agoraphobia engage in avoidance behaviors. Patients may become housebound and unable to work or participate in ordinary activities.

  • Panic disorder is often treated using:

    Medication and mental health counseling

    Rationale: Panic disorder cannot be cured; but symptoms may be well managed in most patients. Dual treatment with medication and mental health counseling offers patients the best chance of treatment for panic disorder.

  • A patient experiencing a panic attack may think that:

    She is dying, having a heart attack or going insane

    Rationale: A patient experiencing a panic attack may think that she is losing her mind and going insane. Fear of dying from a heart attack is common. If you are with a patient who is having a panic attack, stay calm and remind the patient that the panic will subside. Encourage slow deep breathing. Provide for privacy and maintain the patient’s dignity.

  • Types of medications used to treat panic disorder include:

    Antidepressants, stimulants, and vitamin D

    Rationale: Three kinds of medications are used to treat panic disorder. Tranquilizers, antidepressants, and beta blockers are useful for the treatment of panic disorder. They reduce the frequency and intensity of panic symptoms.


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