Panic Disorder



Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by recurring unexpected panic attacks. A panic attack is a sudden rush of intense physical and psychological distress. During an attack, people experience a range of symptoms such as racing heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness, trembling, and an overwhelming sense of fear or impending doom. Panic attacks typically reach their peak within 10 minutes but can last longer. Panic disorder often begins in late adolescence or early adulthood.


The main symptom of panic disorder is the panic attack itself. Physical symptoms during an attack may include:

Pounding/racing heart



Shortness of breath/choking sensations

Chest pain

Nausea/abdominal distress


Chills or hot flashes


Fear of losing control or dying

Psychological symptoms include extreme fear, feelings of unreality, and inability to think clearly.

When to See a Doctor

You should see a doctor if you are experiencing panic attacks and persistent worries about having another attack. Untreated, panic disorder can severely disrupt your life. Seek medical evaluation if:

Panic attacks are recurring

Worry about panic attacks impacts daily functioning

Physical symptoms like chest pain require assessment

When to Get Emergency Help

Get emergency medical care if you are experiencing panic attack symptoms that suggest a life-threatening condition, including:

Chest pains not relieved by rest

Shortness of breath not associated with panic/p>

Irregular heartbeat

Symptoms that could indicate a heart attack or other medical emergency


Diagnosing panic disorder involves a medical evaluation, personal history, and describing the frequency and nature of panic attack symptoms. The doctor may order tests to rule out other potential causes. The core criteria are experiencing recurring, unexpected panic attacks and persistent anxiety about future attacks or their consequences.


The primary treatments for panic disorder are medications and psychotherapy. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can help reduce panic attack frequency and severity.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) teaches coping skills to manage anxiety and panic through relaxation, exposure therapy, and reframing negative thought patterns.

Other recommendations may include lifestyle practices like exercise, stress management, avoiding stimulants, and support groups. With proper treatment, panic disorder is highly manageable.