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December 17, 1982

Panic disorder may respond to new 'antidepressants'

JAMA. 1982;248(23):3077-3078. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330230003001

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These X hese two quotations are from patients who experienced recurrent attacks of extreme panic.

Such attacks—now known officially as "panic disorder"—entail fearfulness of a magnitude unimaginable to the average anxious person. Unlike the nervous student facing a big exam, or the bullet-sweating job applicant, patients with panic disorder are vulnerable to a kind of amorphous, overwhelming terror that strikes them suddenly, at any time or place, without discernible provocation. It is accompanied by severe autonomic symptoms such as tachycardia, palpitations, dizziness, syncope, trembling, dyspnea, choking or smothering sensations, and paresthesias, as well as by fear by dying, losing control of one's behavior, or becoming psychotic (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders [DSM-III], ed 3, Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association, 1980).

For someone who has never witnessed such an attack, actor Burt Reynolds provides an excellent illustration in one scene of the movie "Starting Over," when he precipitously begins