Panic disorder is diagnosed in people who experience spontaneous seemingly out-of-the-blue panic attacks and are preoccupied with the fear of a recurring attack. Panic attacks occur unexpectedly, sometimes even during sleep.
Learn the symptoms of a panic attack , also known as an anxiety attack.
About six million American adults experience panic disorder in a given year. Typically developing in early adulthood, women are twice as likely as men to have panic disorder.
Many people don't know that their disorder is real and highly responsive to treatment. Some are afraid or embarrassed to tell anyone, including their doctors and loved ones, about what they experience for fear of being considered a hypochondriac. Instead they suffer in silence, distancing themselves from friends, family, and others who could be helpful or supportive.
Facing Panic: Learn seven self-help steps to break the cycle of panic and regain control of your life. This book includes techniques and exercises to manage and overcome panic attacks and panic disorder. Download the charts found in Facing Panic, Self-Help for People with Panic Attacks to help you practice and track the skills you learn to overcome your panic.
Chart 1: Practicing the Calming Skills 
Chart 2: Practice Creating Symptoms 
Chart 3: Practice Creating Symptoms 
Chart 4: Listing & Ranking My Feared Situations 
Chart 5: Details of My Feared Situations 
Chart 6: Preparing to Practice 
Chart 7: Learning from Practice 
The disorder often occurs with other mental and physical disorders, including other anxiety disorders, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, or substance abuse. This may complicate of getting a correct diagnosis.
Some people stop going into situations or places in which they've previously had a panic attack in anticipation of it happening again.
These people have agoraphobia, and they typically avoid public places where they feel immediate escape might be difficult, such as shopping malls, public transportation, or large sports arenas. About one in three people with panic disorder develops agoraphobia. Their world may become smaller as they are constantly on guard, waiting for the next panic attack. Some people develop a fixed route or territory, and it may become impossible for them to travel beyond their safety zones without suffering severe anxiety.