BACK TOTOP Browse A-ZSearchBrowse A-ZABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ0-9 E-mail FormEmail ResultsName:Email address:Recipients Name:Recipients address:Message: Print-FriendlyBookmarksbookmarks-menuPanic disorderPanic attacks; Anxiety attacks; Fear attacks; Anxiety disorder - panic attacksPanic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder in which you have repeated attacks of intense fear that something bad will happen. Causes The cause is unknown. Genes may play a role. Other family members may have the disorder. But panic disorder often occurs when there is no family history.Panic disorder is twice as common in women as it is in men. Symptoms often begin before age 25 but may occur in the mid-30s. Children can also have panic disorder, but it is often not diagnosed until they are older. Symptoms A panic attack begins suddenly and most often peaks within 10 to 20 minutes. Some symptoms continue for an hour or more. A panic attack may be mistaken for a heart attack.A person with panic disorder often lives in fear of another attack, and may be afraid to be alone or far from medical help.People with panic disorder have at least 4 of the following symptoms during an attack:Chest pain or discomfort Chest painChest pain is discomfort or pain that you feel anywhere along the front of your body between your neck and upper abdomen.Read Article Now Book Mark Article Dizziness or feeling faint Fear of dying Fear of losing control or impending doom Feeling of choking Feelings of detachment Feelings of unreality Nausea or upset stomach Numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, or face Palpitations, fast heart rate, or pounding heart PalpitationsPalpitations are feelings or sensations that your heart is pounding or racing. They can be felt in your chest, throat, or neck. You may:Have an unpl...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Sensation of shortness of breath or smothering Shortness of breathBreathing difficulty may involve:Difficult breathing Uncomfortable breathingFeeling like you are not getting enough airRead Article Now Book Mark Article Sweating, chills, or hot flashes Trembling or shakingPanic attacks may change behavior and function at home, school, or work. People with the disorder often worry about the effects of their panic attacks.People with panic disorder may abuse alcohol or other drugs. They may feel sad or depressed.Panic attacks cannot be predicted. At least in the early stages of the disorder, there is no trigger that starts the attack. Recalling a past attack may trigger panic attacks. Exams and Tests Many people with panic disorder first seek treatment at the emergency room. This is because the panic attack often feels like a heart attack.The health care provider will perform a physical exam and a mental health assessment.Blood tests will be done. Other medical disorders must be ruled out before panic disorder can be diagnosed. Disorders related to substance use will be considered because symptoms can resemble panic attacks. Treatment The goal of treatment is to help you function well during everyday life. Using both medicines and talk therapy works best.Talk therapy (cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT) can help you understand panic attacks and how to cope with them. During therapy, you will learn how to:Understand and control distorted views of life stressors, such as other people's behavior or life events. Recognize and replace thoughts that cause panic and decrease the sense of helplessness. Manage stress and relax when symptoms occur. Imagine the things that cause the anxiety, starting with the least fearful. Practice in real-life situations to help you overcome your fears.Certain medicines, usually used to treat depression, may be very helpful for this disorder. They work by preventing your symptoms or making them less severe. You must take these medicines every day. DO NOT stop taking them without talking with your provider.Medicines called sedatives or hypnotics may also be prescribed.These medicines should only be taken under a doctor's direction. Your doctor will prescribe a limited amount of these drugs. They should not to be used every day. They may be used when symptoms become very severe or when you are about to be exposed to something that always brings on your symptoms. If you are prescribed a sedative, do not drink alcohol while on this type of medicine.The following may also help reduce the number or severity of panic attacks:Do not drink alcohol. Eat at regular times. Get plenty of exercise. Get enough sleep. Reduce or avoid caffeine, certain cold medicines, and stimulants. Support Groups You can ease the stress of having panic disorder by joining a support group. Sharing with others who have common experiences and problems can help you not feel alone.Support groups are usually not a good substitute for talk therapy or taking medicine, but can be a helpful addition.Anxiety and Depression Association of America -- adaa.org National Institute of Mental Health -- www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/panic-disorder-when-fear-overwhelms/index.shtml Outlook (Prognosis) Panic disorders may be long-lasting and hard to treat. Some people with this disorder may not be cured. But most people get better when treated correctly.People with panic disorder are more likely to:Abuse alcohol or illegal drugs Be unemployed or less productive at work Have difficult personal relationships, including marriage problems Become isolated by limiting where they go or who they are around When to Contact a Medical Professional Contact your provider for an appointment if panic attacks are interfering with your work, relationships, or self-esteem.Call 911 or the local emergency number or see your provider right away if you develop suicidal thoughts. Prevention If you get panic attacks, avoid the following:Alcohol Stimulants such as caffeine and cocaine These substances may trigger or worsen the symptoms.Open ReferencesReferencesAmerican Psychiatric Association. Anxiety disorders. In: American Psychiatric Association, ed. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2013:189-234.Calkins AW, Bui E, Taylor CT, Pollack MH, LeBeau RT, Simon NM. Anxiety disorders. In: Stern TA, Fava M, Wilens TE, Rosenbaum JF, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 32.Lyness JM. Psychiatric disorders in medical practice. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 369.National Institute of Mental Health website. Anxiety disorders. www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml. Updated July 2018. Accessed June 17, 2020.AllVideoImagesTogRelated Information Generalized anxiety disorder(Condition)Heart attack(Condition)Anxiety disorders(In-Depth)Heart attack and acute coronary syndrome(In-Depth) Review Date: 5/10/2020 Reviewed By: Fred K. Berger, MD, addiction and forensic psychiatrist, Scripps Memorial Hospital, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- © 1997- All rights reserved. A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.Content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.