What is Panic Disorder?
Panic Disorder is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by the experience of at least three panic attacks in a three week period under circumstances not involving physical exertion or life threatening events.
Many people experience an occasional panic attack related to life stress and anxiety and this does not necessarily mean that you have a diagnosable Panic Disorder. However, if the panic attacks become more frequent, as indicated above, then the psychiatric diagnosis would apply.
The body has a natural flight or fight response to danger. When faced with a life threatening situation, one may either stay put and face the danger (fight), or run away from the danger (flight). However, in many situations in which panic attacks occur, there is no danger or the fear is disproportional to the threat.
What distinguishes the occasional panic attack from Panic Disorder is the frequency of the attacks as well as a persistent fear or worry about experiencing another one.