How Panic Attacks Become Panic Disorder – TAG006

How Panic Attacks Become Panic DisorderPanic disorder.

You hear the term often, especially if its a part of your life, but do you understand the difference between panic attacks and panic disorder?  Knowing this can be an important part of building a foundation for overcoming your panic.  Lets take a look at how panic attacks can become panic disorder so we can learn to focus our recovery efforts more efficiently and effectively.

The highlights:


  • Panic attacks are physical.  Panic disorder is cognitive and behavioral.
  • A panic attack is a discrete physical event with a beginning and and end.
  • Having panic attacks does not mean one has panic disorder.
  • Panic disorder is characterized by how you focus on your panic between attacks and how you change your life to avoid or cope with them.
  • Many people have regular panic attacks without ever developing panic disorder.
  • Since panic disorder develops based on learned cognitive connections between perceived danger and the behaviors we engage to either escape that danger or avoid it altogether.
  • Since panic disorder is cognitive, focusing on eliminating the physical sensations of panic tends to be a dead end.  You must work on the cognitive and behavioral side of things to be most effective.
  • This means working on facing your fear without engaging in escape, safety or avoidance behaviors. This is how the cognitive connections that fuel panic disorder are broken and un-learned.


Intro/Ending Music Credit: Title Autumn Day (Kevin MacLeod – Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 

Photo Credit: Rebecca L. Daily via Compfight cc