panic disorder

How Do You Know if You Have Panic Disorder?

The Nystrom & Associates provider consulted for this article is Alexa Just, LICSW, CCTP, Outpatient Therapist  Does anxiety, fear, or overwhelm frequently feel like it takes you over?  Maybe you feel your heart beating faster or like you can’t breathe. If so, you might have panic disorder. Keep reading to discover what panic disorder is, its potential causes, and how it can be treated. Related: Panic Attacks: 4 Quick Tips to Help Cope 

What is a Panic Disorder? 

Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that causes reoccurring and unpredictable panic attacks. Keep in mind, it is not just a little bit of anxiety. The panic attacks are intense and overwhelming. There doesn’t have to be a particular trigger for the onset of a panic attack either, it can happen at any time, and sometimes for no apparent reason at all. At the root of a panic attack is the feeling of intense terror. The attacks last for several minutes or longer, which can feel like an eternity for those going through it.  Learn more about the symptoms of panic attacks on the panic disorder specialty page. 

Potential Causes of a Panic Disorder 

There isn't one single cause, however, researchers have found that it sometimes runs in families. In addition, panic disorder is associated with pronounced life changes. For instance, certain life transitions, like leaving for college, having a child, or getting married are potential triggers.    Related: How to Cope With Life Transitions  However, there are risks that can increase the likelihood of the development of a panic disorder. Alexa Just expands on some of those risks. “Studies have revealed that childhood adversity, such as physical or sexual abuse, increases the risk of developing a panic disorder in adult years and potentially non-panic anxiety symptoms (1).”    But, there is hope; symptoms can improve with treatment.  

Panic Disorder Treatment 

Mental health professionals help treat both anxiety and panic disorders. First, it’s important to make sure the symptoms you are experiencing are not due to an unrelated physical problem. Therefore, it’s crucial to get bring up these symptoms with your medical provider. You can also schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist or psychologist to receive a possible diagnosis. From there, a treatment plan will be made, which might include a combination of therapy and if necessary, medication. “There are numerous treatment modalities utilized for anxiety and panic disorders. Multiple clinical trials have found that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is successful in treating panic disorders (2).”  Related: 4 Anxiety-Related Negative Thought Patterns  Overall, a provider will help you examine target the root cause, which will help to prevent attacks from occurring. 
In my own work, I have found that combining CBT with somatic and trauma-focused treatment has been successful in decreasing symptoms. I believe that this approach helps to address current and longer-term symptoms by addressing the symptoms we are seeing and targeting the roots of the problem.
Related: Trauma & PTSD 

A Word From Nystrom & Associates 

Left untreated, panic disorder can affect your quality of life and relationships. If you are struggling, please talk to a mental health professional. You deserve to find true healing.  To learn more about our services or to make an appointment, call  1-844-NYSTROM today.   Sources:
  1. Roy-Bryne P (2021). Panic disorder in adults: Epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, course, assessment, and diagnosis. Retrieved from 
  2. Craske M, Ph.D. (2021). Psychotherapy for panic disorder with or without agoraphobia in adults. Retrieved from

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