A fear of fear.
Panic Disorder impacts 2-3% of people in the US and is twice as common in women than in men.
Panic Disorder is a very uncomfortable experience. People living with panic disorder experience spontaneous panic surges that may seem to come out of the blue. Because these experiences are so unpredictable and unwelcome, people will begin to fear a recurring panic attack.
It is possible to have a panic episode at any time, even when waking from sleep, although sleep apnea should be ruled-out as it is the primary reason for night panic. The average age of onset for panic disorder is usually after age 20.
What’s It Like to Live with Panic Disorder?
People will often refer to an episode as “panic attack.” They report a preoccupation with a fear they will have a panic attack at any moment and become anxious at the thought of panic. This fear can interfere with daily life. People will often avoid any situation or thing they associate with an attack.
Many people attempt to hide a panic disorder because they fear they will not be taken seriously. A panic attack feels very threatening in the body. Due to a change in breathing, the muscles in the upper chest tighten. People will often develop somatic fears such as dying from a heart attack, being unable to breathe, or fear of losing consciousness.
Like generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety, panic disorder is highly responsive to treatment.