Panic Disorder: When Fear Overwhelms

Panic Disorder: When Fear Overwhelms

Do you sometimes have sudden attacks of anxiety and consuming concern that concluding for several minutes ? possibly your heart pounds, you sweat, and you feel like you can ’ t breathe or think clearly. Do these attacks occur at irregular times with no apparent trigger, causing you to worry about the hypothesis of having another one at any fourth dimension ? An untreated panic perturb can affect your timbre of biography and conduct to difficulties at sour or school. The good news program is panic disorder is treatable. Learn more about the symptoms of panic disorder and how to find serve .

What is panic disorder?

People with panic disorder have frequent and unexpected panic attacks. These attacks are characterized by a sudden beckon of fear or discomfort or a sense of losing control even when there is no clear danger or trip. not everyone who experiences a panic attack will develop panic disorder.

panic attacks much include physical symptoms that might feel like a heart fire, such as shaky, tingling, or rapid heart rate. panic attacks can occur at any prison term. many people with panic disorderliness worry about the possibility of having another approach and may significantly change their life to avoid having another attack. panic attacks can occur a frequently as several times a day or deoxyadenosine monophosphate rarely as a few times a year .
panic disorderliness often begins in the late teens or early adulthood. Women are more likely than men to develop panic perturb .

What are the signs and symptoms of panic disorder?

People with panic disorder may have :

  • Sudden and repeated panic attacks of overwhelming anxiety and fear
  • A feeling of being out of control, or a fear of death or impending doom during a panic attack
  • An intense worry about when the next panic attack will happen
  • A fear or avoidance of places where panic attacks have occurred in the past
  • Physical symptoms during a panic attack, such as:
    • Pounding or racing heart
    • Sweating
    • Chills
    • Trembling
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Weakness or dizziness
    • Tingly or numb hands
    • Chest pain
    • Stomach pain or nausea

What causes panic disorder?

panic disorder sometimes runs in families, but no one knows for indisputable why some family members have it while others don ’ thyroxine. Researchers have found that several parts of the mind and certain biological processes may play a all-important role in fear and anxiety. Some researchers think panic attacks are like “ false alarms ” where our body ’ s distinctive survival instincts are active either excessively often, besides powerfully, or some combination of the two. For case, person with panic disorderliness might feel their heart throb and assume they ’ ra having a heart attack. This may lead to a evil hertz, causing a person to experience panic attacks apparently out of the blue sky, the central have of panic perturb. Researchers are studying how the brain and body interact in people with panic disorder to create more specialize treatments. In addition, researchers are looking at the ways stress and environmental factors play a character in the disorder .

How is panic disorder treated?

If you ’ ra experiencing symptoms of panic disorder, talk to a health manage supplier. After discussing your history, a health care supplier may conduct a physical examination to ensure that an unrelated physical problem is not causing your symptoms. A health caution supplier may refer you to a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or clinical social worker. The inaugural step to effective treatment is to get a diagnosis, normally from a genial health professional .
panic disorder is broadly treated with psychotherapy ( sometimes called “ talk therapy ” ), medicine, or both. talk with a health manage provider about the best treatment for you .


cognitive behavioral therapy ( CBT ), a research-supported type of psychotherapy, is normally used to treat panic disorder. CBT teaches you different ways of think, act, and reacting to the feelings that happen during or before a panic approach. The attacks can become less frequent once you learn to react differently to the forcible sensations of anxiety and reverence during a panic attack .
exposure therapy is a common CBT method that focuses on confronting the fears and beliefs associated with panic disorder to help you engage in activities you have been avoiding. photograph therapy is sometimes used along with liberalization exercises .
For more information on psychotherapy, visit the National Institute of Mental Health ( NIMH ) psychotherapies web page .


Health wish providers may prescribe medication to treat panic disorder. Different types of medicine can be effective, including :

  • Antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • Beta-blockers
  • Anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines

SSRI and SNRI antidepressants are normally used to treat depression, but they besides can help treat the symptoms of panic disorder. They may take several weeks to start working. These medications besides may cause side effects, such as headaches, nausea, or difficulty sleeping. These side effects are normally not austere, specially if the venereal disease starts off first gear and is increased lento over time. Talk to your health wish supplier about any side effects that you may experience .
Beta-blockers can help control some of the physical symptoms of panic perturb, such as rapid heart pace, sweat, and tremors. Although health wish providers do not normally prescribe beta-blockers for panic disorder, the medicine may be helpful in certain situations that precede a panic attack.

Benzodiazepines, which are anti-anxiety sedative medications, can be very effective in quickly decreasing panic attack symptoms. however, some people build up a allowance to these medications and need higher and higher doses to get the same consequence. Some people even become dependent on them. consequently, a health worry provider may prescribe them only for brief periods of time if you need them .
Both psychotherapy and medicine can take some prison term to work. many people try more than one medication before finding the best one for them. A health wish supplier can work with you to find the best medicine, venereal disease, and duration of treatment for you. A healthy life style besides can help combat panic disorderliness. Make sure to get adequate sleep and exercise, eat a goodly diet, and turn to family and friends who you trust for digest. To learn more ways to take worry of your mental health, visit NIMH ’ s Caring for Your Mental Health web page .
For more information about medications used to treat panic disorder, sojourn NIMH ’ s Mental Health Medications web page. Visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ( FDA ) web site for the latest warnings, affected role medication guides, and information on newly approved medications .

How can I support myself and others with panic disorder?

Educate Yourself

A adept manner to help yourself or a love one who may be struggling with panic attacks or panic disorder is to seek information. Research the warning signs, learn about treatment options, and keep up to date with current inquiry .


If you are experiencing panic disorder symptoms, have an honest conversation about how you ’ ra feel with person you trust. If you think that a friend or class member may be struggling with panic disorder, set aside a time to talk with them to express your concern and reassure them of your support .

Know When to Seek Help

If your anxiety, or the anxiety of a sleep together one, starts to cause problems in casual life—such as at educate, at influence, or with friends and family—it ’ south fourth dimension to seek professional aid. Talk to a health worry supplier about your genial health .

Are there clinical trials studying panic disorder?

NIMH supports a broad range of research, including clinical trials that look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat diseases and conditions—including panic disorder. Although individuals may benefit from being separate of a clinical trial, participants should be mindful that the elementary aim of a clinical test is to gain new scientific cognition indeed that others may be better helped in the future .
Researchers at NIMH and around the state conduct clinical trials with patients and goodly volunteers. talk to a health care supplier about clinical trials, their benefits and risks, and whether one is good for you. For more information, sojourn NIMH ‘s clinical trials web page .

Finding Help

Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator

This on-line resource, provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration ( SAMHSA ), helps you locate mental health discussion facilities and programs. Find a facility in your department of state by searching SAMHSA ’ s on-line Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator. For extra resources, visit NIMH ‘s Help for Mental Illnesses web page .

Talking to a Health Care Provider About Your Mental Health

Communicating well with a health caution provider can improve your wish and assistant you both make good choices about your health. Find tips to help prepare for and get the most out of your visit at Taking Control of Your Mental Health : Tips for Talking With Your Health Care Provider. For extra resources, including questions to ask a supplier, visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website .
If you or person you know is in immediate distress or is thinking about hurting themselves, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 1-800-273-TALK ( 8255 ). You besides can text the Crisis Text Line ( HELLO to 741741 ) or use the Lifeline Chat on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline web site .


This issue is in the public domain and may be reproduced or copied without permission from NIMH. We encourage you to reproduce and use NIMH publications in your efforts to improve public health. If you do use our materials, we request that you cite the National Institute of Mental Health. To learn more about using NIMH publications, please contact the NIMH Information Resource Center at 1-866‑615‑6464, e-mail nimhinfo @, or refer to NIMH ’ s reissue guidelines.

For More Information

MedlinePlus ( National Library of Medicine ) ( en español ) ( en español )
National Institutes of Health
NIH Publication No. 22-MH-8077
Revised 2022

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