ONG Specialist & Counselling Centre
8-G, Lebuh Sungai Pinang 1,
11600 Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia.

Contact No. : +604-283 8178
+604-282 2237

Opening hours : Tue - Sat
10am - 5pm

Anxiety disorders are the commonest mental disorders which include a wide range of illnesses such as:
Social phobias, specific phobias, PANIC DISORDER, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) etc.

The core symptom are panic attacks and excessive anxiety.

Panic Disorder is a common anxiety disorder seen in the clinics. Patients will complain of recurrent panic attacks. They are worried about having additional panic attacks in the future and worried about the implications/ consequences of the panic attack (eg: “I am having a heart attack”, or “I think I am going crazy!”).

So what is a Panic Attack?

Panic Attack is a discrete period of intense fear/ discomfort which peaks rapidly, usually within 10 minutes, often accompanied by a sense of imminent danger/ impending doom. It comes with a few of these following symptoms and signs:

Shortness of breath
Chest pain/ discomfort
Choking sensation
Trembling/ shaking
Numbness/ tingling sensation
Chills/ hot flushes
Nausea/ abdominal distress
Dizzy/ fainting
            Feelings of unreality (derealization) or depersonalization
            Fear of losing control “going crazy”
            Fear of dying

These patients may end up in casualty hyperventilating or complaining of chest pain even though all investigations done already rule out a medical condition. It is prudent to ensure the signs and symptoms are not due to drug of abuse (or some medicine).

A detailed history may reveal an underlying psychological stressor prior to the onset of the panic disorder.

A very common scenario is when a patient suffers symptoms such as chest tightness, palpitation, difficulty in breathing and numbness and goes about repeatedly checking with the cardiologists who do not find any abnormality to indicate heart disease. The unfortunate patient will spend lots of time and money looking for a cause! He may end up doing unnecessary invasive procedures, and waste many years before being diagnosed appropriately as suffering from Panic Disorder.

Short term measures include prescribing benzodiazepines to abort a panic attack. However, the long term measures include using antidepressants (with anxiolytic effect), while teaching the patients Relaxation Techniques (breathing exercise, PMR etc) and incorporating Psychotherapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) when indicated.

To learn more please click here.

For updates on the management of anxiety disorders (6th ASEAN conference for Primary Health Care 2009), kindly click here.