Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by intense, recurrent, and unexpected panic attacks. Fear and anxiety are common reactions to scary or stressful events, but a person with panic disorder experiences symptoms including severe feelings of terror, rapid breathing, chest pain, and an accelerated heart rate—either out of proportion to the situation, or occurring repeatedly without clearly identifiable stressors.

The exact causes of panic disorder are not clearly understood, but experts believe a combination of psychological, behavioral, and environmental factors are at play.

Panic disorder affects 2.7% of the U.S. adult population each year.   Fortunately, with a combination of therapy and medication, people with panic disorder can manage their condition.

Key Terms

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  1. National Institute of Mental Health. Panic disorder . Updated 2016.