Awareness drive on panic attacks

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 January, 2007, 12:00am

About 500 doctors are being mobilised to raise public awareness of panic attacks, which are said to affect 200,000 people.

They will help to promote a hotline and distribute a free magazine about the illness.

About 61 per cent of office workers have suffered panic attacks - with symptoms that include chest pain, palpitations and breathing difficulties - and 45 per cent have had suicidal thoughts, according to surveys in 2002 and 2005.

Mood Disorders Centre director Lee Sing, who is running the campaign, said a person suffering from a panic attack experiences symptoms similar to a heart attack when the natural fear mechanism of the body occurs suddenly and out of context. The uneasiness subsides as soon as the victims feel secure again, which can require treatment with drugs or natural remedies.

He said more resources would be allocated in raising awareness of the illness in areas such as Tin Shui Wai and Tuen Mun, where social problems were most prevalent.

'Support for emotional disorders is most inadequate in these districts. Many people and families living there do not seek help from private psychologists,' he said. 'But if they go to public hospitals ... they may wait for at least one or two years to see one.'

The campaign will consist of 11 lectures about the illness across the territory and free magazines on the emotional disorders will be placed in the clinics of the 500 doctors involved.

Details about the disorder are available on the hotline: 2606 3939.