Panic Disorder

What is panic disorder?

If you have repeated and unexpected panic attacks, you may have panic disorder. Panic disorder causes bouts of overwhelming fear when there is no specific cause for the fear. In between panic attacks, you may worry greatly about when and where the next one may happen. It can even keep you from leaving your home. 

What causes panic disorder?

Panic disorder is a common mental
health problem. It often starts in the teens or early adulthood. But it may also begin
in childhood. Women are twice as likely as men to have it. There may be a genetic link.
It tends to run in families.

Panic disorder may be an overreaction of the body’s normal survival instincts and behaviors. In people with panic disorder, the body may be more sensitive to hormones that trigger excited feelings in the body.

What are the symptoms of panic disorder?

Panic attacks can happen in other types of anxiety disorders, too. Generally, if you have 4 or more panic attacks and if you always worry about having another, you have panic disorder. Symptoms of a panic attack may include:

  • Pounding heart
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sense of choking
  • Upset stomach (nausea) or belly
    pain
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Feeling unreal or disconnected from oneself
  • Fear of losing control
  • Fear of going crazy or dying
  • Numbness
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Chest pain and other symptoms that
    seem like a heart attack

Panic disorder can be upsetting and
disabling. An attack can last from a few minutes to an hour. Sometimes it can last
longer.

The symptoms of a panic attack may
seem like other mental health conditions. Always see your healthcare provider for a
diagnosis.

How is panic disorder diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider or a
mental health provider may diagnose you with panic disorder based on your symptoms.
Generally, if you have 4 or more panic attacks and if you are in constant fear of having
another, you have panic disorder.