Symptoms of panic disorder include intense feelings and physical symptoms. People with panic disorder experience panic attacks that begin suddenly and without warning. A panic attack may last from a few minutes to over a half-hour. People with panic disorder experience four or more of the following syndromes during an episode:
You may feel out of control, "losing touch" with reality, fear that you are dying, or afraid that you are going crazy. You may have chest pains and your heart may race. It may be difficult to breathe and swallow. It may feel like you are having a heart attack, but panic disorder is not related to true heart disease. You may experience tightness in your throat or a choking feeling. You may feel dizzy and sweat, shake, or tremble. Your hands and feet may tingle or feel numb. You may hyperventilate. Other symptoms include chills, hot flashes, nausea, and cramps.
Panic disorder may cause people to restrict their lives because of fear of another panic attack. They may stay at home more, quit their job, or avoid common activities such as grocery shopping. This condition is called agoraphobia (fear of public places.) Depression, phobias, substance abuse, and irritable bowel syndrome may also accompany panic disorder.