Many people may experience a panic attack in their lifetime — especially during stressful or emotionally charged situations. But for some people panic attacks occur so frequently that the fear of experiencing them may result in a panic disorder.
Panic disorder develops when a person is consistently worried about having additional panic attacks, or changes their behavior in an attempt to not experience them. While a panic attack may only last for a short while the episode can be extremely distressing. Someone suffering from panic disorder may avoid situations, places, or people that trigger panic attacks, severely disrupting their quality of life.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), approximately 2-3% of Americans experience panic disorder in a given year, and panic attacks are more than twice as common in women than in men.
- An estimated 4.7% of U.S. adults experience panic disorder at some time in their lives, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
- NIMH also puts the past-year prevalence of panic disorder among adults at 3.8% for women as opposed to just 1.6% for men.
- Nearly half of U.S. adults showed a serious degree of impairment for panic disorder (44.8%), compared to 29.5% with moderate impairment and 25.7% with mild impairment.