Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is a condition that is experienced by about one out of every 75 people at some point within their lives, usually during the teen or early adult years.


The exact causes of panic disorder are unclear, however there seem to be connections to major life transitions such as moving, getting married, or having children. There is evidence of the symptoms following family lines, although if this is genetic or environmental it still unknown.


  • The most identifiable symptom is the panic attack which includes symptoms such as
    • racing heartbeat
    • difficulty breathing
    • terror
    • dizziness, nausea
    • trembling, sweating, shaking
    • choking, chest pains
    • hot flashes, or sudden chills
    • tingling in extremities
    • fear that you're going to go crazy or are about to die
Diagnosis and Treatment

Only a trained medical professional can diagnose panic disorder, however due to lack of information among patients as well as doctors, sufferers see an average of ten doctors before being properly diagnosed. The key symptom is panic attacks which occur without reasonable stimuli, and which impair the quality of life of the patient.

Patients are usually treated with a combination of medicines and behavioral therapy. Exposure therapy is often used as well as the teaching of relaxation techniques. Anti-anxiety medications, anti-depressants, and sometimes even heart medications are prescribed (to control irregular heartbeat that occurs during panic attacks).


Without treatment the outlook is not good. Panic disorder has many side effects that can seriously impact the body and mind. The constant triggering of the fight or flight instinct can have a negative impact on the brain and its function. With treatment including behavioral therapy and medications, improvement of symptoms usually occurs within 10 to 20 weekly sessions and tremendous improvement is achieved over the course of a year in most cases.