Skip to main content

What are panic disorders?

A panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that causes extreme and debilitating fear and physical symptoms. These symptoms typically occur in out-of-the-blue attacks that aren’t necessarily connected to a specific worry or stressor.

Panic disorders range in severity. For example, some people only experience one or two panic attacks before their symptoms disappear, while others have recurring attacks that interfere with their quality of life.

What are the warning signs of a panic disorder?


A panic disorder causes panic attacks, which combine mental and physical symptoms, such as:

  • Intense fears and worries
  • Sense of impending doom
  • Fears of loss of control or death
  • A feeling of detachment from reality
  • Trembling
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea or abdominal cramping
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

Panic attacks aren’t usually dangerous, but they’re frightening. Many patients say that they feel like they’re having a heart attack or dying when they have a panic attack.


How are panic disorders treated?



Your provider might prescribe medication to regulate your brain chemistry and alleviate some of your anxious thoughts and other symptoms. Anti-anxiety medication can take a few weeks to take effect, so remain patient.




During counseling, you have an opportunity to explore your anxious feelings and fears. You and your counselor might work on techniques to recognize the thoughts and feelings that warn of a panic attack and methods to self-soothe before the attack strikes.

Skip to content