This is the VOA Special English Health Report.
A panic attack is a sudden feeling of terror. Usually it does not last long,
but it may feel like forever.
The cause can be something as
normally uneventful as driving over
a bridge or flying in an airplane. And it can happen even if the person has
driven over many bridges or flown many times before.
A fast heartbeat. Sweaty hands. Difficulty breathing. A lightheaded feeling. At first a person may
have no idea what is wrong. But these can all be signs of what is known as panic
The first appearance usually is between the ages of 18 and 25. In some
cases it develops after a tragedy, like the death of a loved one, or some other
In the United States, the National Institute of Mental Health says more than
two million people are affected in any one-year period.
The American Psychological Association says panic disorder is two times more
likely in women than men. And it can last anywhere from a few months to a
Panic attacks can be dangerous -- for example, if a person is driving at the
time. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge in the state of Maryland is so long and so high
over the water, it is famous for scaring motorists. There is even a driver
assistance program to help people get across.
Some people who suffer a panic attack develop a phobia, a deep fear of ever
repeating the activity that brought on the attack.
But experts say panic disorder can be treated. Doctors might suggest
anti-anxiety or antidepressant medicines. Talking to a counselor could help a
person learn to deal with or avoid a panic attack. There are breathing methods,
for example, that might help a person calm down.
Panic disorder is included among what mental health professionals call
anxiety disorders. A study published last week reported a link between anxiety
disorders and several physical diseases. It says these include thyroid disease,
lung and stomach problems, arthritis, migraine headaches and allergic
Researchers at the University of Manitoba in Canada say that in most cases
the physical condition followed the anxiety disorder. But, they say, exactly how
the two are connected remains unknown.
The report in the Archives of Internal Medicine came from a German health
study of more than 4,000 adults.
And that’s the VOA Special English Health Report, written by Caty Weaver. I’m
uneventful : occurring without