Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Anxiety & Panic Disorders Health Center

Select An Article

Panic Disorder

Font Size

How Common Is Panic Disorder?

Panic disorder affects about 2.4 million adult Americans. Panic disorder most often begins during late adolescence and early adulthood. It is twice as common in women as in men.

How Is Panic Disorder Diagnosed?

If symptoms of panic disorder are present, the doctor will begin an evaluation by performing a complete medical history and physical exam. Although there are no lab tests to specifically diagnose panic disorder, the doctor may use various tests to look for physical illness as the cause of symptoms.

If no physical illness is found, you may be referred to a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professional who is specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. Psychiatrists and psychologists use specially designed interview and assessment tools to evaluate a person for panic disorder.

The doctor bases his or her diagnosis on reported intensity and duration of symptoms, including the frequency of panic attacks, and the doctor's observation of the patient's attitude and behavior. The doctor then determines if the symptoms and degree of dysfunction suggest panic disorder.

How Is Panic Disorder Treated?

A combination of the following therapies is often used to treat panic disorder.

  • Psychotherapy. Psychotherapy (a type of counseling) addresses the emotional response to mental illness. It is a process in which trained mental health professionals help people by talking through strategies for understanding and dealing with their disorder.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy. A type of psychotherapy that helps a person learn to recognize and change thought patterns and behaviors that lead to troublesome feelings. Therapy also aims to identify possibly triggers for panic attacks.
  • Medication. The anti-depressant drugs Paxil and Zoloft and anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax, Ativan, or Klonopin are used to treat panic disorders. Sometimes, heart medications (such as beta blockers) are used to help with anxiety.
  • Relaxation techniques.

Some people will respond well to treatment only to experience panic attacks later in life. When panic attacks continue after treatment has stopped, additional treatment may still help control and reduce panic attacks. In addition, relaxation techniques, such as breathing retraining and positive visualization, may help a person during an attack.

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

young leukemia patient
Unhappy couple
embarrassed woman
Phobias frightened eyes
stressed boy in classroom
Distressed teen girl in dramatic lighting
man hiding with phone
chain watch