Panic attacks are sudden and intense feelings of fear accompanied by physical symptoms, such as a pounding heart, shortness of breath, tingling sensations, and dizziness or lightheadedness. Each year about one in 10 people experiences a panic attack, but only about one in 50-75 people develops panic disorder. Panic disorder involves a series of unexpected and severe panic attacks that interferes with a person’s emotional life, relationships, and ability to work.
Many people who have panic disorder develop agoraphobia, a tendency to avoid the places and situations that trigger panic attacks. Not all people with panic disorder develop agoraphobia. Those who do develop agoraphobia commonly avoid large stores and other crowded places, driving on the highway, and being far from their home.
Panic disorder tends to be chronic and tends to reaction to stress. Those who do not receive treatment are likely to continue having problems, though the severity of their attacks may wax and wane. Here are the main treatment options usually considered for panic disorder: