It is a common and often misdiagnosed disorder. The main reason for being an ignored disorder is the lack of awareness about it. If we see around ourselves, there are many people suffering from this. But often it is not discussed or is not considered problematic. Even if it comes to attention, the proper recognition is often missed.

But why this happens?

Why is it misdiagnosed?

How does it occur?

How can we identify it?

To begin with the description of this illness, we have to understand how it presents. So the patient complains of having episodes of extreme anxiety. Here the person would say that suddenly he/she starts having a feeling of restlessness. This restlessness can last for few minutes to an hour or longer at times. Patient appears very fearful and finds it difficult to relax. He would start sweating with shivering in the body. At times, there would be choking sensations in the throat associated with difficulty in breathing.

The person would start feeling his heartbeats to be faster and louder. Due to all these symptoms, the person would feel as if he is going mad or is going to die. These symptoms would gradually increase in intensity and worsen in few minutes. Then, the episode would gradually subside on its own.

Once the episodes start occurring, the person would have a fear that the episode would occur again. Due to this fear, the person would continue to remain worried. As it is understandable, this worry would hamper the person’s day to day activities. If the disorder is not treated, the frequency of episodes would increase and would negatively impact the person’s life.

As the disease progresses, the person starts avoiding certain places or situations where he has had those episodes. This behavior worsens as the severity of illness increases. All this causes a feeling of sadness and low mood in the person and the quality of life suffers.

All these symptoms need to assessed for proper treatment. But, because these symptoms can occur in many other diseases, it becomes difficult to diagnose properly.

As I have discussed, it becomes necessary to be vigilant of such things in our surroundings. I want to emphasize that this is a common mental illness. But, it is very frequently ignored and thus affects the patient adversely. So, if we want to help them, we must know that it can be treated through proper recognition and treatment by professionals trained to manage it.

Dr. Ankit Chaudhary

MBBS, MD (Psychiatry)