Individuals who suffer with panic disorder regularly experience panic attacks, or rushes of intense fear, anxiety, or discomfort that seemingly come from out of the blue, for no apparent reason. Importantly, not everyone who experiences panic attacks will develop panic disorder. Those who do develop panic disorder, however, worry about having more panic attacks and may limit themselves or adjust their behavior in hopes of preventing future attacks. This accommodating to the panic occurs at the expense of leading a happier or more satisfied life. Often, there is a persistent fear of when the next panic attack might occur, and afflicted individuals will try to avoid or escape situations they have come to associate with panic attacks.
Panic disorder can significantly impair an individual's social, occupational, and physical functioning. Panic attacks can result in frequent visits to medical facilities and frequent absences from work or school.
Panic disorder affects roughly 2% to 3% of adolescents, and 2% to 3% of adults in the general population. It can appear at any age, but most often develops by young adulthood. In the United States, Latinos, African Americans, Caribbean Blacks, and Asian Americans report lower rates of panic disorder as compared with non-Latino whites. Females are about twice as likely to experience panic disorder as males.
Agoraphobia involves the experience of intense fear or anxiety in a wide range of situations, such as when using public transportation, being in open spaces or enclosed spaces, standing on line or being in a crowd, or being away from home alone. Individuals with agoraphobia may worry that something terrible will happen in these situations, or they may fear that they will not be able to escape or get help in the event that they experience panic-like or incapacitating symptoms.
Agoraphobia can significantly impair a person's functioning as the individual often changes his behavior to avoid certain situations. In extreme cases, agoraphobia can cause individuals to become homebound and dependent on others for basic needs. Depressive symptoms, feelings of worthlessness, and abuse of alcohol or sedative medications are common in individuals suffering from this disorder.
Agoraphobia affects approximately 2% of adolescents and 2% of adults in the general population. Agoraphobia typically develops in late adolescence or early adulthood, although it can occur at any age.
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