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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 ways to gain control over yourself. 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)

Last reviewed: September 2017

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