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May 17, 2000

Panic Disorder—It's Real and It's Treatable

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Dr Glass is Deputy Editor, JAMA.

JAMA. 2000;283(19):2573-2574. doi:10.1001/jama.283.19.2573

The title above, taken from a National Institute of Mental Health public service announcement, is an important message for physicians and for the public because of the common occurrence of clinical situations exemplified by the following prototypical scenario: A previously healthy young adult presents for urgent evaluation because of the most recent episode of recurrent, spontaneous attacks consisting of a rapid crescendo of intense anxiety accompanied by frightening physical sensations of "pounding heart," chest pain, sweating, shortness of breath, and dizziness, along with a fear of dying or losing control. The patient's medical history, physical examination, and electrocardiogram are otherwise unremarkable except for the presence of sinus tachycardia. The likely diagnosis is panic disorder (PD).1