A panic attack is a sudden onset of an intense feeling of apprehension, fear,
terror, or impending doom (American Psychiatric Association, 1980). These
are associated with a wide range of distressing symptoms. Symptoms experienced
during a panic attack include dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain
or discomfort, trembling, or shaking, tingling in the hands or feet, palpitations,
choking, hot and cold flushes, sweating, faintness, and feelings of unreality
or loss of control. They usually last for only a few minutes, but can also
continue for hours.
Approximately 10 to 35 % of the populations have experienced panic attacks
(Kanton, Vitaliano, Russo, Cormier, Anderson & Jones, 1986; Norton,
Dorward & Cox, 1986; Norton, Harrison, Hauch & Rhodes, 1985; Zgourides & Warren,
1988). One type of Anxiety Disorder is specifically defined by panic attacks.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-III
(American Psychiatric Association, 1980), the defining features of panic
disorders are three or more attacks in the previous three weeks, and at
least four of the twelve panic symptoms mentioned previously. Estimates
of the prevalence range from 1.6 to 2.9% for women and 0.6 to 1.7% for men
(Kanton, 1986; Kanton, et al., 1986).