Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder that occurs when an individual has spontaneous panic attacks. Patients with the disorder also become very worried they might have another panic attack. The attacks come on unexpectedly, though they may also be brought on by stress. Some even experience symptoms when they wake from sleep. The majority of panic disorder cases have symptom onset after the age of twenty, but there have been children diagnosed with the condition. Around two to three percent of the United States population struggles with a panic disorder every year. Women have twice the rate of panic attacks as men. The disorder can impact a patient's day-to-day activities by making them miss work, avoid situations where a panic attack might occur, and cause them to see their doctor multiple times. Panic attacks are sudden, debilitating, and include feelings of terror, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, and chest pain. They can feel very similar to a heart attack, which sometimes causes patients with panic disorder to seek emergency treatment.
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