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Panic Disorder - Learn about Panic Disorders

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Updated May 28, 2009

Definition: Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that causes a person to feel sudden and intense periods of fear. Sufferers of panic disorder often describe their feelings as extreme fear of immanent death or life-threatening danger. People with panic disorders may also have physical symptoms such as racing heartbeat, the feeling of being suffocated, difficulty breathing, chest pain, choking, hot or cold sweating, shaking, a sense of unreality, and dizziness. Panic attacks may occur when sufferers are under stress. In other cases, panic attacks happen with no apparent cause.

Panic disorders occur most frequently between adolescence and adulthood. However, it is possible for children to have panic attacks. People with panic disorders usually benefit from medication and therapy. Without treatment, panic attacks may continue and could lead to phobias such as agoraphobia.

Panic disorders are more common in women than men. The incidence of panic disorder is higher among biological relatives.

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