Information for the public
The main symptoms of panic disorder are attacks of intense fear and discomfort that happen unexpectedly and repeatedly. There may also be physical symptoms such as chest pain, sickness, dizziness, a racing heart beat, breathlessness, sweating or shaking. People with panic disorder may avoid situations that they think might lead to a panic attack. They may also fear or avoid public spaces (this is known as agoraphobia).
A person experiencing a panic attack may go to a hospital accident and emergency department mistakenly thinking they are having a heart attack because their heart rate is so high. If this happens to you, after the healthcare professionals have ruled out any physical cause of your symptoms, they should ask you about any previous treatment, give you information about panic disorder and advise you to see your GP. In most cases, you should not be admitted to hospital if you have had a panic attack.