Children with panic disorder experience repeated, unpredictable panic attacks that can cause feelings that are often misinterpreted as impending death and heart attack-like symptoms, and can result in a disconnection from reality.
A diagnosis of panic disorder often occurs only after medical explanations for signs and symptoms, as well as other psychiatric disorders — including OCD and PTSD — are exhausted. A professional will diagnose panic disorder if attacks are recurrent and unexpected, and if one attack is followed in the ensuing months by other signs including:
- Preoccupation with the possibility of further attacks
- Fear of the effects of an attack, including the feeling of having a heart attack or “going crazy”
- A considerable change from normal behavior following the attacks, such as avoiding places associated with them