What is panic disorder?
Panic disorder (PD) is an anxiety disorder which causes someone to experience recurrent and unexpected attacks of panic and anxiety.
The symptoms of a panic attack are not dangerous but they can be incredibly frightening.
Panic disorder signs and symptoms
Panic attacks are a central symptom of panic disorder (and perhaps the most recognisable one), but they’re not the only one. There are a wide range of other behavioural, psychological and physiological symptoms associated with this type of anxiety disorder.
- Trembling or shaking
- Feelings of choking
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Nausea or abdominal distress
- Feeling dizzy, light-headed or faint
- Chills or heat sensations
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Depersonalisation (feeling “out of body”)
- Avoiding situations
- Avoiding any physical activity that may trigger a feeling similar to a panic attack
- Placing yourself close to exits in a room
- Being accompanied to places by a family member or friend in anticipation of a panic attack
- Worrying about future panic attacks
- Fear of having a heart attack
- Fear of dying
- Feelings of loss of control
How does panic disorder develop?
Panic disorder often develops following a period of heightened stress or after a major life event like the loss of a loved one or a serious illness.
It’s also been shown to hold a genetic basis which means you’re more likely to develop it if a family member also has the disorder.
Frequently asked questions
Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder. It usually manifests when symptoms of anxiety have escalated to very high levels. The symptoms of a panic attack can feel physically intense which can lead to a lot of fear around it happening again. Unfortunately, this can end up perpetuating the problem as this fear often leads someone to avoid anxiety-provoking situations reinforcing the symptoms.