Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by reoccurring unexpected panic attacks. Panic attacks are sudden periods of intense fear that may include palpitations, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, numbness, or a feeling that something terrible is going to happen.
Panic disorder is diagnosed in people who experience spontaneous seemingly out-of-the-blue panic attacks and are very preoccupied with the fear of a recurring attack.
panic attack is defined as the abrupt onset of an episode of intense fear or discomfort, which peaks in approximately 10 minutes, but can take much longer for anxiety to subside, and includes at least four of the general anxiety symptoms listed above or the additional panic responses listed below: • Trembling • Feeling of being smothered • A feeling of choking • Chest pain or discomfort • A sense of things being unreal • A fear of losing control or “going crazy” • A fear of dying • Tingling sensations • Chills or hot flushes
Panic disorder is diagnosed when a person experiences at least two unexpected panic attacks, followed by at least 1 month of concern over having another attack, and may be prone to situationally predisposed attacks.
Some advice on panic attacks from the Institute of Psychiatry Centre for Anxiety Disorders: • No matter how bad it feels, panic attacks cannot actually harm you or make you go mad. • Panic attacks do not last forever – they always pass after a while. • The way you think will affect how bad the panic attack is and how long it lasts. • If you run away from a panic attack, you are making things harder for yourself in the long term in that your life will become more and more restricted. • During a panic attack, remind yourself that you are not going to die, go mad or lose control. Let the panic attack wash over you without fighting it – just wait for it to subside by itself.