Panic Disorder

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.


  • Palpitations
  • Sweating
  • 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
consultation taking notes

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

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by your symptoms and they are getting in the way of you living your life in the way you’d like to, it’s important to seek professional help. Without the right support, you might find yourself withdrawing from situations out of fear of having a panic attack which could leave you isolated.

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.

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Dr Elena Touroni

Dr Elena Touroni is a skilled and experienced consultant psychologist with a track record of delivering high-quality services for individuals with all common emotional difficulties and those with a diagnosis of personality disorder. She is experienced in service design and delivery, the management of multi-disciplinary teams, organisational consultancy, and development and delivery of both national and bespoke training to providers in the statutory and non-statutory sector.

Having obtained a first degree in Psychology (BSc) at the American College of Greece, she completed her doctoral training at the University of Surrey. Dr Touroni is highly experienced in the assessment and treatment of depression, anxiety, substance misuse, personality disorder, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, adjustment disorder and relationship difficulties. She works with both individuals and couples and can offer therapy in English and Greek.

Dr Touroni has held a variety of clinical and managerial positions including as Head of Service in the NHS. Further she has held academic positions for the University of Surrey and the Institute of Mental Health lecturing on specialist postgraduate Masters and Doctorate programmes.

She is trained in several specialist therapeutic approaches such as schema therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based approaches and Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT). As well as holding a variety of NHS positions, Dr. Touroni is the co-founder of a private practice in Central London that has been a provider of psychological therapy for all common emotional difficulties including personality disorder since 2002. She is the founder and one of two directors of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic.