Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder in which an individual will experience an intense episode of anxiety commonly called a panic attack. The symptoms of a panic attack usually last between five and 30 minutes. Symptoms can seemingly come out of nowhere or they may be triggered by a predictable circumstance. A panic attack shares symptoms with a heart attack and because the risk for heart attack is much higher among older adults, the event should not be dismissed as panic until a heart attack is ruled out or unless the individual had experienced several panic attacks in the past and is sure that is what is occurring.
A panic attack can leave a person emotionally drained and frightened. Panic disorder sufferers often live in fear of having another attack. Because of this, they may avoid the places or situations where panic symptoms are triggered or they may become afraid to go out in public at all. It is not surprising that many people who suffer from panic disorder also suffer from depression.
As with other anxiety disorders, there are treatment options for panic disorder.