Misdiagnosis of Panic disorder


About misdiagnosis: When checking for a misdiagnosis of Panic disorder or confirming a diagnosis of Panic disorder, it is useful to consider what other medical conditions might be possible misdiagnoses or other alternative conditions relevant to diagnosis. These alternate diagnoses of Panic disorder may already have been considered by your doctor or may need to be considered as possible alternative diagnoses or candidates for misdiagnosis of Panic disorder. For a general overview of misdiagnosis issues for all diseases, see Overview of Misdiagnosis.

Alternative diagnoses list for Panic disorder: For a diagnosis of Panic disorder, the following list of conditions have been mentioned in sources as possible alternative diagnoses to consider during the diagnostic process for Panic disorder:

Panic disorder as an alternative diagnosis: The other diseases for which Panic disorder is listed as a possible alternative diagnosis in their lists include:

Discussion of diagnosis/misdiagnosis of Panic disorder: Not everyone who experiences panic attacks will develop panic disorder -- for example, many people have one attack but never have another.1

Since panic disorder can mimic a variety of medical conditions, such as heart problems and digestive complaints, the first thing you should do is have a full medical evaluation. 2

Panic disorder is characterized by un-expected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms that may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness or abdominal distress. These sensations often mimic symptoms of a heart attack or other life-threatening medical conditions. As a result, the diagnosis of panic disorder is frequently not made until extensive and costly medical procedures fail to provide a correct diagnosis or relief. 3

Many people with panic disorder remain intensely concerned about their symptoms even after an initial visit to a physician yields no indication of a life-threatening condition. They may visit a succession of doctors seeking medical treatment for what they believe is heart disease or a respiratory problem. Or their symptoms may make them think they have a neurological disorder or some serious gastrointestinal condition. Some patients see as many as 10 doctors and undergo a succession of expensive and unnecessary tests in the effort to find out what is causing their symptoms.

This search for medical help may continue a long time, because physicians who see these patients frequently fail to diagnose panic disorder. When doctors do recognize the condition, they sometimes explain it in terms that suggest it is of no importance or not treatable. For example, the doctor may say, "There's nothing to worry about, you're just having a panic attack" or "It's just nerves." Although meant to be reassuring, such words can be dispiriting to the worried patient whose symptoms keep recurring. The patient needs to know that the doctor acknowledges the disabling nature of panic disorder and that it can be treated effectively. 4

Medical news summaries about misdiagnosis of Panic disorder: The following medical news items are relevant to misdiagnosis of Panic disorder:

Misdiagnosis cases for Panic disorder: No cases available yet.

1. excerpt from Panic Disorder: NWHIC
2. excerpt from Getting Treatment for Panic Disorder: NIMH
3. excerpt from Facts about Panic Disorder: NIMH
4. excerpt from Understanding Panic Disorder: NIMH

Last revision: July 1, 2003

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