(Also Known As: Panic Attacks, Panic, Anxiety Panic Disorder)
(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)
What is Panic Disorder?
Panic Disorder is a condition belonging to the anxiety disorder category and is characterized by a sudden panic attack, which may be recurrent, resulting in behavioral changes that may last at least a month. Panic Disorder can become an anticipatory disorder, where the person worries on an ongoing basis and even continually predicts having another attack. Panic Disorder is a treatable condition though there is no known cure.1 Panic Disorder typically occurs during adulthood between the ages of 25 to 30 years old affecting women twice as much as men. Some sources suggest the condition may occur as early as 15 to 19 years of age.
One striking characteristic of panic attacks experienced by a person with Panic Disorder is that the attack is very sudden and unexpected. It occurs unprovoked and can often become disabling. The person with Panic Disorder may often develop phobias or an irrational fear of situations that preceded the panic attack and begin to avoid them. This pattern of avoidance then eventually becomes a different level of anxiety where the mere idea of doing the things that preceded their first panic attack usually triggers future panic attack with a resulting condition of Agoraphobia.2 Panic Disorder has two types—namely Panic Disorder with agoraphobia and Panic Disorder without agoraphobia.
In Panic Disorder, panic attacks may continue for months or even years—the duration being highly dependent on when and how treatment is sought. If Panic Disorder is left untreated, the extent of anxiety and panic attacks can become distressing enough to the person that they may make an effort of concealing the Panic Disorder because of the fear of the stigma of mental illness.
Individuals with severe and repeated panic attacks can become disabled from the condition. Extreme fear of experiencing the attack again, which is often termed Agoraphobia, usually leads to other phobias and the individual no longer enjoys doing their usual activities. With the fear that they will have another panic attack, the person’s activities become restricted.
It is notable that Panic Disorder is often accompanied by other serious problems such as Drug Addiction, Alcoholism, and depression, and each condition needs to be treated individually.3
Could You Have Panic Disorder?
Panic Disorder Topics