Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by recurring severe panic attacks. It may also include significant behavioral change lasting at least a month and of ongoing worry about the implications or concern about having other attacks. The latter are called anticipatory attacks (DSM-IVR). Panic disorder is not the same as agoraphobia (fear of public places), although many with panic disorder also suffer from agoraphobia. Panic attacks cannot be predicted, therefore an individual may become stressed, anxious or worried wondering when the next panic attack will occur. There are other schools of thought that Panic disorder is differentiated as a medical condition, or chemical imbalance. The DSM-IV-TR describes Panic disorder and Anxiety differently. Panic attacks have a sudden or out-of-blue cause that lasts shorter with more intense symptoms, as opposed to Anxiety attacks having stressors that build to less severe reactions and can last for weeks or months. Panic attacks can occur in children, as well as adults. Panic in young people may be particularly distressing because the child has less insight about what is happening, and his/her parent is also likely to experience distress when attacks occur.
Screening tools like Panic Disorder Severity Scale can be used to detect possible cases of disorder, and suggest the need for a formal diagnostic assessment.