Panic Disorder: When Fear Overwhelms

Panic Disorder: When Fear Overwhelms

Do you sometimes have sudden attacks of anxiety and overwhelm fear that final for several minutes ? possibly your heart pounds, you sweat, and you feel like you can ’ t breathe or think distinctly. Do these attacks occur at irregular times with no apparent gun trigger, causing you to worry about the possibility of having another one at any clock time ? An untreated panic perturb can affect your quality of life and lead to difficulties at cultivate or school. The beneficial news program is panic disorderliness is treatable. Learn more about the symptoms of panic disorder and how to find assistant .

What is panic disorder?

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

panic attacks frequently include physical symptoms that might feel like a heart attack, such as tremble, tingling, or rapid affection rate. panic attacks can occur at any time. many people with panic disorder worry about the hypothesis of having another approach and may significantly change their animation to avoid having another assail. panic attacks can occur adenine frequently as several times a day or equally rarely as a few times a year .
panic disorderliness often begins in the late teens or early adulthood. Women are more probably than men to develop panic disorder .

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 disorderliness sometimes runs in families, but no one knows for indisputable why some family members have it while others don ’ thymine. Researchers have found that several parts of the genius and sealed biological processes may play a crucial function in fear and anxiety. Some researchers think panic attacks are like “ false alarms ” where our consistency ’ s typical survival instincts are active either excessively much, besides strongly, or some combination of the two. For example, person with panic perturb might feel their heart pound and assume they ’ re having a heart attack. This may lead to a poisonous motorbike, causing a person to experience panic attacks apparently out of the blue, the central feature of speech of panic disorderliness. Researchers are studying how the brain and body interact in people with panic disorder to create more specify treatments. In summation, researchers are looking at the ways stress and environmental factors play a function in the disorder .

How is panic disorder treated?

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


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


Health caution providers may prescribe medication to treat panic disorderliness. 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 trouble sleep. These side effects are normally not hard, particularly if the venereal disease starts off low and is increased slowly over clock. Talk to your health concern supplier about any side effects that you may experience .
Beta-blockers can help control some of the physical symptoms of panic disorderliness, such as rapid center rate, sweat, and tremors. Although health care providers do not normally prescribe beta-blockers for panic perturb, the medicine may be helpful in certain situations that precede a panic attack.

Benzodiazepines, which are anti-anxiety ataractic medications, can be identical effective in quickly decreasing panic attack symptoms. however, some people build up a tolerance to these medications and need higher and higher doses to get the lapp effect. Some people flush become subject on them. consequently, a health care supplier may prescribe them entirely for brief periods of meter if you need them .
Both psychotherapy and medication can take some time to work. many people try more than one medicine before finding the best one for them. A health care provider can work with you to find the best medication, acid, and duration of treatment for you. A goodly life style besides can help combat panic perturb. Make sure to get enough sleep and exercise, eat a healthy diet, and turn to kin and friends who you trust for digest. To learn more ways to take care of your mental health, visit NIMH ’ s Caring for Your Mental Health web page .
For more information about medications used to treat panic disorder, visit NIMH ’ s Mental Health Medications web page. Visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ( FDA ) web site for the latest warnings, patient medication guides, and data on newly approved medications .

How can I support myself and others with panic disorder?

Educate Yourself

A good way to help yourself or a love one who may be struggling with panic attacks or panic disorderliness is to seek information. Research the warning signs, learn about treatment options, and keep up to date with stream research .


If you are experiencing panic disorder symptoms, have an honest conversation about how you ’ ra feeling with person you trust. If you think that a friend or family extremity may be struggling with panic disorderliness, set aside a time to talk with them to express your refer and reassure them of your digest .

Know When to Seek Help

If your anxiety, or the anxiety of a love one, starts to cause problems in everyday life—such as at school, at work, or with friends and family—it ’ south clock time to seek professional help. Talk to a health care supplier about your mental health .

Are there clinical trials studying panic disorder?

NIMH supports a wide crop of research, including clinical trials that look at raw ways to prevent, detect, or treat diseases and conditions—including panic perturb. Although individuals may benefit from being separate of a clinical trial, participants should be mindful that the primary determination of a clinical trial is to gain newly scientific cognition so that others may be better helped in the future .
Researchers at NIMH and around the state conduct clinical trials with patients and goodly volunteers. lecture to a health care provider about clinical trials, their benefits and risks, and whether one is right for you. For more information, visit 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 treatment facilities and programs. Find a facility in your 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 manage provider can improve your care and avail you both make good choices about your health. Find tips to help prepare for and get the most out of your inflict at Taking Control of Your Mental Health : Tips for Talking With Your Health Care Provider. For extra resources, including questions to ask a provider, 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 publication is in the public domain and may be reproduced or copied without license 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 offprint 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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