What is Panic Disorder?
Panic disorder is a real illness. It can be treated with
medicine or therapy.
If you have panic disorder, you feel suddenly terrified
for no reason. These frequent bursts of terror are called
panic attacks. During a panic attack, you also have scary
physical feelings like a fast heartbeat, trouble breathing,
Panic attacks can happen at any time and any place without
warning. They often happen in grocery stores, malls, crowds,
or while traveling.
You may live in constant fear of another attack and may
stay away from places where you have had an attack. For some
people, fear takes over their lives and they are unable to
leave their homes.
Panic attacks don’t
last long, but they are so scary they feel like they go
When does panic disorder start and how long does it last?
It usually starts when people are young adults, around 18
to 24 years old. Sometimes it starts when a person is under
a lot of stress, for example after the death of a loved one
or after having a baby.
Anyone can have panic disorder, but more women than men
have the illness. It sometimes runs in families.
Panic disorder can last for a few months or for many years.
What can I do to help myself?
- Talk to your doctor about your
fear and panic attacks.
- Tell your doctor if the panic
attacks keep you from doing everyday things and living
It can help you explain how you feel. Ask your doctor for
a checkup to make sure you don’t
have some other illness.
- Ask your doctor if he or she has
helped other people with panic disorder.
Special training helps doctors treat people with panic
disorder. If your doctor doesn’t have special training,
ask for the name of a doctor or counselor who does.
- Call 1-866-615-6464 to have free
information mailed to you.
What can a doctor or counselor
do to help me?
The doctor may give you medicine. Medicine usually helps
people with panic disorder feel better after a few weeks.
Talking to a specially trained
doctor or counselor who can teach you ways to cope with
your panic attacks helps many people with panic disorder.
This is called “therapy.” Therapy
will help you feel less afraid and anxious