Diagnosis of Panic Disorder

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and how often they happen. You will also be asked how these attacks effect your day to day life. A panic attack can be diagnosed based on your symptoms. It may take a bit longer to diagnose a panic disorder.

The doctor will look for certain factors that suggest panic disorder. The American Psychiatric Association requires some or all of the following:

  • Repeated, unexpected panic attacks. There is intense fear that fades after a few minutes.
  • At least one month of worry about having another panic attack
  • Worry about what may happen during a panic attack. May worry about a heart attack or losing control.
  • A change in behavior because of the attacks such as not going back to a place where a prior attack happened.

Your doctor will ask if you have problems with:

  • Keeping a normal routine
  • Work
  • School
  • Being in public places or situations


Special screening tests may be given. These tests can find other mental health issues that may need to be treated. Many people with panic disorder also have:

Your doctor may do lab tests to rule out other causes for your health problems.



Answers to your questions about panic disorder. American Psychological Association website. Available at:
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Accessed February 26, 2019.
Anxiety disorders. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml. Updated July 2018. Accessed February 26, 2019.
Panic attacks and panic disorder. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/psychiatric-disorders/anxiety-and-stressor-related-disorders/panic-attacks-and-panic-disorder. Updated July 2018. Accessed February 26, 2019.
Panic disorder. Anxiety and Depression Association of America website. Available at: https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/panic-disorder. Accessed February 26, 2019.
Panic disorder. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115030/Panic-disorder. Updated September 21, 2018. Accessed February 26, 2019.
Last reviewed December 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 2/26/2019

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