Panic disorder involves intense anxiety attacks that seem to occur out of nowhere and can feel overwhelming in the moment. At the time, there is no obvious trigger for the physiological experience of anxiety, and to the person experiencing the attack, that can make it seem that their problem is medical. Panic attacks are often misinterpreted as heart attacks or strokes. Even when it is understood that the problem lies within the connection between psychology and physiology, the experience of extreme panic is so unpleasant and hard to anticipate that people with panic disorder can experience significant anxiety about just the possibility of a panic attack: anxiety about anxiety. Some people avoid certain situations or locations where they are concerned they would have a panic attack, and may be diagnosed with agoraphobia.
Wondering if you might have panic disorder? Take a Panic Disorder screening test.