When Panic Attacks Become Panic Disorder
Though it might surprise many, panic attacks are quite common. They often appear during periods of significant stress or when an individual is overtired. Panic attacks only develop into panic disorder if the individual experiencing them becomes significantly worried about experiencing more attacks, or if something terrible will occur due to a panic attack. Common examples of this include worrying about fainting, embarrassment, going crazy, having a heart attack, or even dying.
Another critical factor differentiating panic attacks from full panic disorder is the fact that attacks of panic disorder are unpredictable. The patient does not know they are coming until they happen. However, someone who has an intense fear, such as of spiders, is often able to predict a panic attack when they encounter the object of their intense fear. In these instances, the individual is not afraid of the panic attack, but of the thing that caused the attack to happen. In panic disorder, the fear is the panic attack.