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NHS Choices Condition

Content supplied by NHS Choices

Everyone experiences feelings of anxiety and panic during their lifetime. It is a perfectly natural response, particularly when you are in a dangerous or stressful situation.

However, for people with panic disorder, feelings of anxiety, stress and panic can occur at any time, usually for no obvious reason.

Anxiety conditions

There are several conditions where anxiety is one of the main symptoms. Phobias, generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and post-traumatic stress disorder can all cause severe anxiety.

Panic attacks

A panic attack is when your body experiences a rush of intense psychological (mental) and physical symptoms.

You may feel an overwhelming sense of fear, apprehension and anxiety. As well as these feelings, you may also experience physical symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, trembling and a sensation that your heart is beating irregularly (palpitations).

A panic attack can be very frightening and intense, but it is not dangerous. It will not cause you any physical harm.

How common is panic disorder?

At least one person in 10 experiences occasional panic attacks, which are usually triggered by a stressful event or situation. However, people with panic disorder have recurring and regular attacks, often for no apparent reason.

The number of panic attacks that you have will depend on the severity of your condition. Some people may have one or two attacks each month, while others may have several attacks a week.

Because panic disorder is a very unpredictable condition it leaves affected people feeling constantly anxious and concerned about when their next attack will be.

In the UK, approximately one person in 100 has panic disorder. Most people first develop the disorder during their 20s, and it is approximately twice as common in women as it is in men.

If you have panic disorder, it may have implications for driving. See the 'useful links' section for how to inform the DVLA about medical conditons.

view information about Panic disorder on www.nhs.co.uk »

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