Panic disorder occurs when you experience recurring unexpected panic attacks. The DSM-5 defines panic attacks as abrupt surges of intense fear or discomfort that peak within minutes. People with the disorder live in fear of having a panic attack. You may be having a panic attack when you feel sudden, overwhelming terror that has no obvious cause. You may experience physical symptoms, such as a racing heart, breathing difficulties, and sweating.
Most people experience a panic attack once or twice in their lives. The American Psychological Association reports that 1 out of every 75 people might experience a panic disorder. Panic disorder is characterized by persistent fear of having another panic attack after you have experienced at least one month (or more) of persistent concern or worry about additional panic attacks (or their consequences) recurring.
Even though the symptoms of this disorder can be quite overwhelming and frightening, they can be managed and improved with treatment. Seeking treatment is the most important part of reducing symptoms and improving your quality of life.