Panic Disorder

young woman on steps, anxious

What is Panic Disorder?

The key feature of Panic Disorder (PD) is the experience of unexpected and recurring panic attacks.

A panic attack is an intense period of fear that starts suddenly and peaks within 10 minutes.

Some of the symptoms experienced during panic attacks include:

  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Choking sensations
  • Heart racing
  • Nausea or butterflies
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Hot flushes or cold chills
  • Sweating
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Fear of dying or losing control
  • Fear of detachment or unreality

Some people have panic attacks with only a few symptoms, while other people experience most of these symptoms.

Types of panic attacks

People who have panic attacks usually describe their first attack as having happened spontaneously or 'out of the blue', without any apparent reason. This type of panic attack is referred to as an 'un-cued' panic attack.

Panic attacks can also be predictable if they occur most of the time in specific situations or places. If this is the case, and the person is afraid of the situation or place itself rather than afraid of having a panic attack in that place, then the person may be experiencing a specific fear (e.g. a fear of spiders) or social anxiety (if confined to social situations). This type of panic attack is called a 'cued' panic attack.

Last Updated : 22-Sep-2013