Panic Disorder Guide: Rebuild your sense of control after trauma

No one exactly knows when, how and why
some people suffer from panic attacks.

Panic disorder is known to run in families and there may be a genetic component to etiology of this disorder.


People suffering from panic disorder may develop some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Feeling of loss of control during a panic attack
  • Overwhelming anxiety of an impending panic attack
  • Avoid or fear places that trigger panic attacks
  • Racing or pounding heart
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Shakes and sweats
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Numbness or tingling sensation
  • Chest/stomach pain
  • Feeling of choking
  • Feelings of derealization or depersonalization

People who are at risk

In America, 6 million people suffer from panic disorder. It is twice as likely to be found in women as men. Symptoms of panic disorder begin to show-up from late adolescence to early adulthood. Every child that suffers panic attacks wouldn’t necessarily develop panic disorder later on in life. A lot of people suffer just one panic attack and never have another one.


It’s important that people who’ve suffered severe panic attacks repeatedly may become disabled due to their condition should seek immediate medical attention. This will help them to prevent avoiding places or situations where they’ve experienced the panic attacks.

For instance if a person experiences a panic attack in an elevator, being in an elevator may become a trigger and this person may develop a fear of elevators for the rest of their life. This fear could influence a person’s choice of getting a job or buying an apartment, and even stop him from asking for medical help or enjoy his life.

Many other psychiatric symptoms like drug abuse, alcoholism or depression can accompany panic disorder. Due to their distinct characteristics, these psychiatric symptoms require separate medical attention.


  • Psychotherapy – A type of psychotherapy called cognitive behavior therapy is especially useful for treating panic disorder. It teaches a person different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to situations that help him or her feel less anxious and fearful.
  • Medication – Doctors also may prescribe medication to help treat panic disorder. The most commonly prescribed medications for panic disorder are anti-anxiety and antidepressants. Anti-anxiety medications tend to suppress panic attacks when they happen and generally should not be taken for long periods of time. Antidepressants tend to prevent panic attacks from occurring and lower the baseline anxiety that is felt from fear of having another attack.

Antidepressants are often safe and effective. Anyone taking antidepressants should be monitored when they start treatment with these medications.

Panic Disorder FAQs

Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by sudden, recurring episodes of intense fear or panic. These panic attacks often come without warning and can cause physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, racing heartbeat, and shortness of breath.

People with panic disorder may want to avoid specific triggers or situations that can worsen their symptoms. Here are some everyday things that people with panic disorder may want to avoid:

  1. Caffeine: Caffeine can increase heart rate and stimulate the nervous system, triggering panic attacks in some people.
  2. Alcohol and drugs: Substance abuse can worsen symptoms of panic disorder and increase the risk of developing other mental health conditions.
  3. Overstimulation: Loud noises, bright lights, and crowded places can be overwhelming for some people with panic disorder and can trigger panic attacks.
  4. Certain medications: Some medications, such as some antidepressants and stimulants, can increase the risk of panic attacks in people with panic disorder.
  5. Stressful situations: Stressful situations, such as job interviews or public speaking, can trigger panic attacks in some people with panic disorder.
  6. Avoidance: Avoiding situations that may trigger panic attacks can lead to social isolation and limit one’s ability to engage in daily activities.

It is important to note that everyone’s triggers and experiences with panic disorder can be different, and working with a mental health professional to develop an individualized treatment plan is essential.

Anxiety can be reduced with home treatments in addition to professional care. Nonetheless, substances like alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, and nicotine should be avoided by those with panic disorders. Some substances may make people more anxious. Anxiety can also be brought on by several illegal substances, including cocaine, crack, and speed (amphetamines.)

Name three things you notice when you look around. Next, describe the three noises you hear. Finally, move your ankle, fingers, or arm, three different body parts. This mental technique might help you stay focused in the present moment if you feel like your mind is racing.

Panic disorder is frequently treated using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a form of psychotherapy that is backed by research. CBT teaches you several approaches to thinking, acting, and responding to the emotions experienced during or before a panic attack.

Some strategies for managing panic disorder symptoms include practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation, getting regular exercise, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, and getting enough sleep. Working with a mental health professional to develop a personalized treatment plan that works for you is also important.

While the panic disorder cannot be cured, it can be effectively managed with the right treatment. People with panic disorder can live daily and fulfilling lives with proper therapy and medication.

If you are looking for panic disorder treatment nearby, there are several options available:

  • Consult your primary care physician: You can provide an initial evaluation, refer you to a specialist, and prescribe medications if necessary.
  • Seek treatment from a mental health professional: Psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists are trained to diagnose and treat panic disorder. You can find a mental health professional through your health insurance provider or by searching online directories.
  • Visit a local community mental health center: Many cities and towns have community mental health centers that offer low-cost or free mental health services, including treatment for panic disorder.
  • Check with your Employee Assistance Program (EAP): If you have an EAP through your employer, they may provide counseling services for panic disorder.
  • Search online for virtual therapy options: Many online therapy platforms or mental health clinics at Los Altos, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Anaheim, San Francisco, Ontario, and Rancho Santa Margarita now provide virtual therapy sessions with licensed mental health professionals. Your health insurance may cover some of these platforms.

Say goodbye to Panic Disorder with treatment from these best doctors

NP Shebna N Osanmoh I, PMHNP Psychiatrist

NP Shebna N Osanmoh I, PMHNP

Language: English

Location: Zoom - Telepsych appointment

Years in Practice: 14+
Dr. Barbara Huynh, DO Psychiatrist

Dr. Barbara Huynh, DO

Language: English

Location: Zoom - Telepsych appointment

Years in Practice: 14+
Dr. Ellen Machikawa, MD Psychiatrist

Dr. Ellen Machikawa, MD

Language: English

Location: Zoom - Telepsych appointment

Years in Practice: 21+
Dr. Barry Stein, MD, Ph.D. Psychiatrist

Dr. Barry Stein, MD, Ph.D.

Language: English

Location: Zoom - Telepsych appointment

Years in Practice: 41+
NP Kehinde Adedayo, PMHNP Psychiatrist

NP Kehinde Adedayo, PMHNP

Language: English

Location: Zoom - Telepsych appointment

Years in Practice: 9+
NP Liang Zhou,  Psychiatrist

NP Liang Zhou,

Language: English

Location: Zoom - Telepsych appointment

Years in Practice: 8+