Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is characterized by recurrent unexpected panic attacks, followed by at least a month of persistent concern about having more attacks, worry about the implications of having an attack (e.g., is there something wrong with my heart?), or a change in behavior related to the attacks (e.g., avoidance).

Panic attacks are periods of marked fear or anxiety which tend to come on quickly, peak within 10 minutes and are accompanied by distressing symptoms of arousal such as palpitations, heart racing, shortness of breath, sweating, lightheadedness, abdominal distress, flushing, spaciness, or feeling as if you may be going crazy, dying or losing control.

Many patients with panic disorder develop agoraphobia, which is a concern about being in places or situations in which help or easy escape may not be available in the event of having an attack, or in which previous attacks have occurred .

Some individuals with agoraphobia avoid the situations they are afraid of or require a companion to accompany them - others endure them with a great deal of distress.

Panic disorder can cause significant difficulties, including marked distress, social and job related dysfunction, increased utilization of medical services (e.g., visits to doctors and emergency rooms), and increased rates of depression and alcohol abuse. A number of effective treatments are available, including medications such as antidepressants or benzodiazepines ("Valium-like" medications), and psychotherapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Please explore our site to find out more about participating in a treatment study for panic disorder at the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

If you are interested in participating in a treatment study, please call 1-866-44-WORRY for our confidential phone line or email us at


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