What are the symptoms? Individuals experience an intense sense of panic usually associated with physical sensations including breathlessness (which may lead to over-breathing), racing heart, tremor, sweating, dry mouth and faintness. Individuals actively avoid situations which may bring them in to contact with the feared object or situation. Even thinking about the feared object or situation can bring on a panic attack. What are the causes? Anxiety can run in families, suggesting a genetic predisposition in some instances. Temperament and learning from parental behaviour is also important. Specific adverse life experiences can trigger anxiety and phobias. Some objects or activities seem particularly prone to produce anxiety and panic (snakes, dentists, heights) whilst others usually do not (lambs, houses). How is it diagnosed? Diagnosis is based upon the above features, sometimes with history of feared or distressing situations having produced particular anxieties, as happens in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. How is it treated? For all forms of anxiety disorder, cognitive and behavioural psychotherapies are strongly supported by research evidence. Medication may have a limited role in extreme circumstances, but only on a short-term basis in order to facilitate psychological approaches. Medication should always be in addition to psychological therapies, time-limited, and as a means to an end; never an end in itself. Inheritance patterns and prenatal diagnosis Inheritance patternsThere may be a familial tendency, but usually this is not the case. Prenatal diagnosis is not possible. Is there support? Anxiety UK Tel: 03444 775 774Email: email@example.comWebsite: anxietyuk.org.uk The Organisation is a Registered Charity in England and Wales No. 1113403. It provides information and support to those living with anxiety disorder. Services include 1:1 therapy, and help with specific phobias. Group details last updated June 2019.