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Quick Facts on Panic Disorder

A brief overview of the signs and symptoms of panic disorder, as well as treatments.

en Español


Panic disorder is a condition characterized by sudden, unpredictable panic attacks that may cause feelings of impending death or doom, and heart attack-like symptoms.


  • Palpitations, an acute shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, sweating
  • A sudden and overwhelming fear of death or losing control, a feeling that the world is unreal, and an intense desire to flee
  • Repeated occurrence of these symptoms, which generally peak after 10 minutes and leave victims with an intense fear of another attack
  • Avoidance of locations where previous episodes occurred, such as enclosed or crowded places where help is not available or escape is difficult

Treatment for Panic Disorder


Cognitive behavioral therapy is used to reduce negative, avoidance-based behavior patterns that actually reinforce the anxiety. Exposure with response prevention therapy, which alleviates anxiety through gradual exposure to situations associated with a patient’s attacks, has also yielded successful results.


Antidepressants have proven to counteract the onset of panic attacks. If antidepressants prove ineffective, benzodiazepines (such as Xanax) have been prescribed as an alternative. Though these drugs carry a risk of dependence, it is rare in children if the course is correctly monitored.

This article was last reviewed or updated on October 30, 2023.