Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder. People with panic disorder experience recurring unexpected sudden episodes of intense terror and physical symptoms. The physical symptoms can be so severe that many people question if they are having a heart attack. People with panic disorder frequently live in fear of another attack and may be reluctant to leave their homes. This can interfere with socialization and attending work or school. Medication and therapy can rapidly improve the symptoms of panic disorder.
Panic disorder is more common in females than males. It most frequently occurs in young adults, but may also occur in children and the elderly. People with panic disorder experience recurrent unexpected panic attacks with at least one attack followed by one month or more of worrying about having another attack or changing behavior related to the attack.
You may feel out of control, "losing touch" with reality, fear that you are dying, or afraid that you are going crazy. You may have chest pains and your heart may race. It may be difficult to breathe and swallow. It may feel like you are having a heart attack, but panic disorder is not related to true heart disease. You may experience tightness in your throat or a choking feeling. You may feel dizzy and sweat, shake, or tremble. Your hands and feet may tingle or feel numb. You may hyperventilate. Other symptoms include chills, hot flashes, nausea, and cramps.
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