Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder where you regularly have sudden attacks of panic or fear.
Everyone experiences feelings of anxiety and panic at certain times. It’s a natural response to stressful or dangerous situations. But someone with panic disorder has feelings of anxiety, stress, and panic regularly and at any time, often for no apparent reason.
Causes & Symptoms of Panic Disorder
The causes of panic disorder are not clearly understood. Research has shown that panic disorder may be genetically linked. Panic disorder is also associated with significant transitions that occur in life. Leaving for college, getting married, or having your first child are all major life transitions that may create stress and lead to the development of panic disorder.
A panic attack is a sudden strong feeling of fear that can happen anywhere, at any time. You’ll have four or more of these signs:
- Pounding or fast heartbeat
- Trembling or shaking
- Shortness of breath or a feeling of being smothered
- A choking feeling
- Chest pain
- Nausea or stomach pains
- Feeling dizzy or faint
- Chills or hot flashes
- Numbness or tingling
- Feeling unreal or detached
- A fear of losing control or going crazy
- A fear of dying
Without treatment, panic disorder can sometimes lead to agoraphobia, an intense fear of being outside or in enclosed spaces.
Treatment aims to reduce the number of panic attacks you have and ease your symptoms. Talking therapies and medication are the main treatments for panic disorder. Your treatment will depend on your symptoms, and a therapist can help you develop a treatment plan that works best for you.