Do I suffer from panic attacks or panic disorder?
A panic attack is a sudden, overwhelming fear that comes without warning or obvious reason. The feelings are much more intense than the feelings of stress or normal anxiety. Panic attacks can happen anytime and anywhere, while shopping, driving in your car, or even in your sleep. Panic attacks are similar to anxiety attacks except that panic attacks come on suddenly, last only a short time (usually 20 to 30 minutes) and the fear is extremely intense. Anxiety attacks, on the other hand, come on more gradually, last longer but are less intense. The tendency to have panic attacks runs in families and are often triggered by major life changes, such as changing jobs, getting married, and having a baby. Panic attacks may also be triggered by events that cause severe stress, like divorce, job loss, or the death of a loved one. There is no reason to worry if you’ve had one or two panic attacks. However, if you continue having panic attacks, you may have panic disorder, a chronic condition that usually develops in the late teens and twenties. Panic disorder rarely develops after age 35 and is twice as common in women. Take this quick assessment to learn the symptoms of panic attacks and panic disorder and help you determine if you may have experienced panic attacks or have a panic disorder.