What Does Panic Disorder Look Like?

Imagine this: you’ve just entered your office building. You’re headed for the elevator at a trot–maybe a little late. You punch the button. Suddenly you feel an intense sense of foreboding. Then raw fear. Something terrible is about to happen. You feel as if you may die the next second.

The elevator doors open. But you’re too frightened to get on. You stand there in the lobby with your heart pounding, barely able to breathe. Other office workers file past you, looking back over their shoulders to see if something is wrong.

Something is. What’s happened and what happens regularly to one in fifty people is a panic attack, the “crisis phase” of panic disorder. The crushing fear of the panic attack most often passes after a few minutes, but in its wake it leaves a residue of uneasiness: when might the panic come again?

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