Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Panic disorder

2-minute read

Panic disorder occurs when somebody has a lot of panic attacks and it affects their life. Here is more information about the difference between panic attacks and panic disorder, how to help manage symptoms and where to get professional help.

What is a panic attack?

A panic attack is a response to a stressful situation, where you feel like you are losing control.

If you have a panic attack, you might have a racing heart and be flushed with pain in your chest. You might feel sweaty, shaky, dizzy, faint and breathless.

It can take time to work out whether you are having a panic attack or a heart problem.

If you are in any doubt, and you have pain in your chest, then call triple zero (000) immediately and ask for an ambulance. If calling triple zero (000) does not work on your mobile phone, try calling 112.

How is a panic attack different to panic disorder

In panic disorder, you have a lot of panic attacks, not just a few. You feel in constant fear of having another one.

Treatment for panic disorder

If you suffer from panic disorder, it can be helpful to know two things:

  • there is probably no life-threatening danger
  • the symptoms will go away

To manage panic disorder, you need strategies to regain some control. Techniques that can help you feel calmer include:

In some instances, medication may help treatment for panic disorder.

Where to get help

If you are experiencing panic attacks, talk to your doctor. You may be eligible for a mental health care plan which can help you access Medicare funding for psychological therapies. Or you can contact one of the services below to speak with someone urgently or chat online:


Cochrane (Antidepressants versus placebo for panic disorder in adults (protocol)), Cochrane (Psychological therapies for panic disorder with or without agoraphobia in adults), Cochrane (Azapirones versus placebo for panic disorder in adults), beyondblue (Panic disorder)

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2017

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Panic disorder

Panic disorder is the term used to describe when panic attacks are recurrent and disabling

Read more on beyondblue website

Panic disorder -

Those affected by panic disorder can experience feelings of panic out of the blue and for no apparent reason.

Read more on myDr website

Online Course and App for Panic Disorder (Agoraphobia) | THIS WAY UP

This Cognitive Behavioural Therapy course from This Way Up will help you learn to combat panic attacks, panic disorder, and agoraphobia.

Read more on This Way Up website

Panic disorder emotional health for new parents

You might feel a bit of panic when youre pregnant or have just had a baby. However, it is not healthy to feel panic all the time. If you experience sudden and repeated panic attacks, you may be diagnosed with panic disorder.

Read more on WA Health website

Panic Disorder | Understanding Anxiety

A Panic Attack is characterised by; sudden episodes of intense fear that seems to come without any apparent cause. Intense panic usually last a few minutes but sometimes it could return in waves...

Read more on WayAhead Mental Health Association NSW website

CCI - Panic Disorder Self-Help Resources

Self-help resources for panic, written by clinical psychologists.

Read more on Centre for Clinical Interventions website

How To Deal with Panic Attacks and Agoraphobia | THIS WAY UP

Feeling overwhelmed by panic? You may be dealing with panic attacks, panic disorder, or agoraphobia. Learn more about these conditions.

Read more on This Way Up website

What are panic attacks? | Anxiety | ReachOut Australia

Learn about the various symptoms of a panic attack and what you can do to manage them.

Read more on website

Childhood phobias, panic attacks & PTSD | Raising Children Network

Children often have phobias about the dark, storms, dogs, spiders and clowns. Panic attacks are quite rare. Post-traumatic stress is a reaction to trauma.

Read more on website

Tool Kit: Panic Attacks

A self-help resource to help people experiencing panic attacks

Read more on Lifeline website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo