Is there a medical term that defines when a person gets uncontrollably scared during a frightening action, such as on a roller coaster ride when it is going fast and turns a person upside-down and they scream and cry out of control?

  • 1
    What makes this a medical issue? Do they have some sort of brain injury or something? – tchrist Apr 7 '13 at 1:24

I'd have used the non-medical term hysteria for this. Looking at the Wikipedia page for hysteria, it seems the medical term is conversion disorder.

  • It may not be an anxiety disorder. The DSM-V says that only a single instance of mania (even "[subclinical](merriam-webster.com/medical/subclinical]" [ie, cannot be detected by the usual clinical tests] mania!) is sufficient for assigning a diagnosis of bipolar-II disorder because "there is no such thing as pharmacologically induced mania" (that's the rationale for the change from the DSM-IV), but this is pure nonsense. – user21497 Apr 7 '13 at 1:39

It's called panic. The problem here is that it can be caused by something real, like a roller coaster ride, in which case it might be an extreme but not abnormal reaction to an outside stimulus, or by nothing at all, in which case it's a symptom of one kind of anxiety disorder or other: panic disorder is one candidate. Just because someone panics on a roller coaster, however, is no reason to assume that they have panic disorder.

  • 1
    Right. There are symptoms and then there are disorders. The panic the OP is referring to is a symptom that is appropriate for the situation, like having a stuffy nose for a cold as opposed to an allergic reaction. – Mitch Apr 7 '13 at 15:15
  • 1
    For a single occurrence, "panic attack" is appropriate and might be considered a medical expression. – user32047 Apr 7 '13 at 16:45
  • @gmgath: Yes, you're right. It is, in fact, a medical expression because it is, in fact, one symptom of the anxiety disorder called Panic Disorder. – user21497 Apr 7 '13 at 23:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.