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Course and Prevalence of Panic Disorder

Over a quarter of all people in the general population will experience a Panic Attack at some point in their lives [ref]. Panic Disorder begins most commonly in people's 20's and affects anywhere from about 2% [ref] to close to 5% [ref] of all people in the general population, with women experiencing the condition about twice as often as men [ref]. About 20% of individuals with Panic Disorder will have Agoraphobia [ref].

Most adults with Panic Disorder report that their first Panic Attacks occurred in adolescence [ref]. As many as 18% of adolescents experience Panic Attacks, though only about 0.5% of all adolescents suffer from Panic Disorder [ref]. It is rare for Panic Disorder to begin before puberty [ref]. Panic symptoms in childhood and adolescence are frequently a predictor of later onset psychiatric disorders [ref].

The course of Panic Disorder tends to be quite variable, with periods of weeks or months when Panic Attacks can be very frequent and other periods when they become rare or absent. Flare-ups usually occur in response to stressful life events. During those times when the condition becomes acute, it can interfere in a very substantial way in a person's life, especially when the individual feels unable to participate in regular activities for fear of having Panic Attacks. Some people may quit their jobs or even refuse to leave their homes for these reasons, especially when they also suffer from Agoraphobia. Having Agoraphobia thus predicts a more difficult course of the disorder, with higher levels of impairment [ref].

Follow-up studies [ref] have shown that about a decade after being diagnosed and treated for Panic Disorder without Agoraphobia, over 80% of individuals will have recovered from the disorder, meaning that for at least a two-month period they no longer suffer from the symptoms of the condition. In cases of Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia, only about half of all individuals reach full recovery after a decade of treatment. In either case, over half of those who recover will have a relapse at some point within the decade following their initial diagnosis.

Over a third of all individuals with Panic Disorder will suffer from Major Depression during their lives [ref]. Fifteen percent of individuals with Panic Disorder without Agoraphobia, and one third of those with Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia, will also have Bipolar Disorder [ref]. Two-thirds of people with Panic Disorder without Agoraphobia, and over 90% of those with Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia, will suffer from another type of Anxiety Disorder [ref]. Over a quarter of individuals with Panic Disorder without Agoraphobia, and over a third of those with Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia, will suffer from Substance Abuse or Dependence [ref]. Having Panic Disorder or even just Panic Attacks increases one's chances of attempting suicide [ref].

 

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Course and Prevalence of Panic Disorder

Over a quarter of all people in the general population will experience a Panic Attack at some point in their lives [ref]. Panic Disorder begins most commonly in people's 20's and affects anywhere from about 2% [ref] to close to 5% [ref] of all people in the general population, with women experiencing the condition about twice as often as men [ref]. About 20% of individuals with Panic Disorder will have Agoraphobia [ref].

Most adults with Panic Disorder report that their first Panic Attacks occurred in adolescence [ref]. As many as 18% of adolescents experience Panic Attacks, though only about 0.5% of all adolescents suffer from Panic Disorder [ref]. It is rare for Panic Disorder to begin before puberty [ref]. Panic symptoms in childhood and adolescence are frequently a predictor of later onset psychiatric disorders [ref].

The course of Panic Disorder tends to be quite variable, with periods of weeks or months when Panic Attacks can be very frequent and other periods when they become rare or absent. Flare-ups usually occur in response to stressful life events. During those times when the condition becomes acute, it can interfere in a very substantial way in a person's life, especially when the individual feels unable to participate in regular activities for fear of having Panic Attacks. Some people may quit their jobs or even refuse to leave their homes for these reasons, especially when they also suffer from Agoraphobia. Having Agoraphobia thus predicts a more difficult course of the disorder, with higher levels of impairment [ref].

Follow-up studies [ref] have shown that about a decade after being diagnosed and treated for Panic Disorder without Agoraphobia, over 80% of individuals will have recovered from the disorder, meaning that for at least a two-month period they no longer suffer from the symptoms of the condition. In cases of Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia, only about half of all individuals reach full recovery after a decade of treatment. In either case, over half of those who recover will have a relapse at some point within the decade following their initial diagnosis.

Over a third of all individuals with Panic Disorder will suffer from Major Depression during their lives [ref]. Fifteen percent of individuals with Panic Disorder without Agoraphobia, and one third of those with Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia, will also have Bipolar Disorder [ref]. Two-thirds of people with Panic Disorder without Agoraphobia, and over 90% of those with Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia, will suffer from another type of Anxiety Disorder [ref]. Over a quarter of individuals with Panic Disorder without Agoraphobia, and over a third of those with Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia, will suffer from Substance Abuse or Dependence [ref]. Having Panic Disorder or even just Panic Attacks increases one's chances of attempting suicide [ref].

 

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Causes

Overview of Treatment