Panic disorder (PD
) is a debilitating disease. The estimated lifetime prevalence is 1.5% to 3.5% with an eightfold increased risk in first-degree relatives. The disorder has a bimodal peak in adolescence and mid 30s and may predispose to the development of other mental disorders
(e.g., other anxiety disorders, mood disorders). Women are twice as likely as men to develop PD
. One third to one half of patients will also suffer from agoraphobia.
Other potential complications are a higher risk of substance abuse
(perhaps as an attempt to self-medicate), suicide,
and mitral valve prolapse.
Because symptoms also overlap with many physical conditions,
there is often an excessive use of medical services. PD
typically follows a waxing and waning course but up to 20% of patients will experience a more chronic, persistent course.