Conditions InDepth: Panic Disorder
Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear. The fear is accompanied by physical symptoms that may include chest pain, heart palpitations, sweating, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress. These sensations often mimic symptoms of a
Many people with panic disorder also experience feelings of
Heredity and other biologic factors, stressful life events, and thinking in a way that exaggerates normal bodily reactions are all believed to play a role in the onset of panic disorder. The exact causes of panic disorder are unknown and are the subject of intense scientific investigation.
About 6 million American adults have panic disorder. Women are twice as likely as men to develop panic disorder. Panic disorder typically strikes in the late teen years or young adulthood. Roughly half of all people who have panic disorder develop the condition before age 24.
Panic disorder can coexist with other disorders, most often depression and substance abuse. Appropriate diagnosis and treatment of other disorders, such as substance abuse or depression, are important to successfully treat panic disorder.
Panic disorder. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/anxiety-disorders/panic-disorder.shtml. Updated January 23, 2009. Accessed March 25, 2009.
Last reviewed March 2009 by
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