Our expert says:
Sounds like this could be Panic Attacks, likely to respond to treatment with some more specific meds and CBT style counselling / therapy. And during such attacks, people often fear they'll die, or go mad, or both. They don't, but it really feels like it. But there are features of other, related disorders, in what you describe --- arrange to see a good local psychiatrist for a full assessment, and then a discussion of treatment options
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