- 10 Ways to Stop Stress
- Quiz: Can You Stop a Panic Attack?
- Coping With an Anxiety Disorder
- Panic Attacks (Panic Disorder) FAQs
- Patient Comments: Panic Attacks - Effective Treatments
- Patient Comments: Panic Attacks - Symptoms
- Find a local Psychiatrist in your town
- Panic attack facts
- What are panic attacks?
- Are panic attacks serious?
- What are causes and risk factors for panic attacks?
- What are panic attack symptoms and signs in adults, teens, and children?
- How do health-care professionals diagnose panic disorder? What types of doctors treat this condition?
- What is the treatment for panic attacks? What medications treat panic attacks?
- What are complications of untreated panic attacks?
- What is the prognosis for panic disorder?
- Is it possible to prevent panic attacks?
Quick GuidePhobias Picture Slideshow: What Are You Afraid Of?
What are panic attacks?
The above statements are two examples of what a panic attack might feel like. Panic attacks may be symptoms of an anxiety disorder. Historically, panic has been described in ancient civilizations, as with the reaction of the subjects of Ramses II to his death in 1213 BC in Egypt, and in Greek mythology as the reaction that people had to seeing Pan, the half man, half goat god of flocks and shepherds. In medieval then Renaissance Europe, severe anxiety was grouped with depression in descriptions of what was then called melancholia. During the 19th century, panic symptoms began to be described as neurosis, and eventually the word panic began being used in psychiatry.
These episodes are a serious health problem in the U.S. At least 20% of adult Americans, or about 60 million people, will suffer from panic at some point in their lives. About 1.7% of adult Americans, or about 3 million people, will have full-blown panic disorder at some time in their lives, women twice as often as men. The most common age at which people have their first panic attack (onset) is between 15 and 19 years of age. Panic attacks are significantly different from other types of anxiety, in that panic attacks are very sudden and often unexpected, appear to be unprovoked, and are often disabling.
Childhood panic disorder facts include that about 0.7% of children suffer from panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder, half as often as occurs in adolescents. While panic is found to occur twice as often in women compared to men, boys and girls tend to develop this condition at equal frequency.
Once an individual has had a panic attack, for example, while driving, shopping in a crowded store, or riding in an elevator, he or she may develop irrational fears, called phobias, about these situations and begin to avoid them. Eventually, the avoidance and level of nervousness about the possibility of having another attack may reach the point at which the mere idea of engaging in the activities that preceded the first panic attack triggers future panic attacks, resulting in the person with panic disorder potentially being unable to drive or even step out of the house (agoraphobia). Thus, there are two types of panic disorder, panic disorder with or without agoraphobia. Like other mental-health conditions, panic disorder can have a serious impact on a person's daily life unless the individual receives effective treatment.
Panic attacks in children may cause the child's grades to decline, their avoiding school and other separations from parents, as well as possibly experiencing substance abuse, depression, or suicidal thoughts, plans, and/or actions.