Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by recurring severe panic attacks. Onset of panic attacks cannot be predicted, and therefore, an individual who suffers from them may become stressed, anxious or worried anticipating a panic attack. The severity and intensity of symptoms associated with panic attacks can be mistaken for serious physical illnesses such as heart attacks, and those suffering from panic attacks may frequently go to hospital emergency rooms.
The diagnostic criteria for panic disorder require unexpected, recurrent panic attacks, followed in at least one instance by at least a month of a significant and related behavior change, a persistent concern of more attacks, or worry about the consequences of the attack.
An estimated 2.4 million, or 1 in 113 Americans suffer from panic disorder. Up to 15% of all Americans are likely to suffer from a panic attack at some point in their lifetime.There is no single cause for panic disorder, but it has been found to run in families, and two-thirds of panic disorder sufferers are women. Some studies have found that deficiencies in magnesium or zinc may make an individual more prone to panic attacks.
Symptoms of a panic attack include the following:
Although Panic disorder can potentially be a disabling disorder, it can be controlled and it can be successfully treated.
Treatment for Panic Disorder may involve outpatient therapy, partial hospitalization, residential care, medications and/or participation in an ongoing support group.