The fight or flight response; when you’re in danger, is your body’s natural response. This is designed to protect you from danger, either by flight or fight. This is a physiological response   prepares the body to react to danger. This response includes the release of adrenaline and other hormones throughout your body, so you can respond to the threat. This protective mechanism helped early humans survive the brutal conditions they faced. The emotional and physical response during fight-or-flight is best described by the word PANIC.

Panic can occur “out of the blue”, when there is no risk of harm. These episodes are called panic attacks. Because there is no danger, these panic attacks aren’t beneficial. They can cause significant problems. If a person experiences many panic attacks, they often begin a cycle of worry about having another panic attack. This anticipation causes even more anxiety. The cycle of worry becomes so strong that a person may avoid going to places where a panic attack might happen. This may severely limit where they feel safe to go. This can lead to another disorder called Agoraphobia.

Panic Disorder occurs when people suffer from sudden, unexpected and uncontrollable panic attacks. The panic attacks aren’t caused by any obvious fear, such as someone being afraid of flying and about to board a plane. A person with Panic Disorder may also experience anticipatory anxiety (worrying about having another attack or the consequences of having another attack) and avoid going to places where a panic attack might happen.

Not all people who experience panic attacks have Panic Disorder. Panic attacks can occur in many different Anxiety Disorders as well as in people who don’t have an Anxiety Disorder. In Panic Disorder, the panic attacks occur without any obvious reason. In other Anxiety Disorders (e.g., Social Anxiety Disorder), the panic attacks are triggered only by feared situations or thoughts (e.g., being in certain social situations).

What causes Panic Disorder and who is at risk?

Research has indicated that in any one-year period, about 2-3 percent of people will have Panic Disorder. Anyone can develop Panic Disorder, but rates are higher among family members of people with Panic Disorder or other anxiety disorders. Panic attacks may begin in childhood or the early teen years, although Panic Disorder usually begins in late adolescence or early adulthood.


Although it is not completely understand what causes Panic Disorder, it is known that genetics play a large role. It’s very common for the immediate family members of someone with Panic Disorder to also have Panic Disorder. Research also suggests that experiencing really stressful events: major losses, physical or sexual abuse, often involved in the development of Panic Disorder.

What treatment options exist?

Medication: Medications may also be used in combination with therapy. There are a number of different medications that might be prescribed, although Serotonin Specific Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly used. Here is a link to the Mayo Clinic

School supports: Sometimes certain adaptations can be made by the school to assist a student to cope with and manage their symptoms.

Community supports: Community supports can include peer support groups for teenagers, support groups for families, and other helpful resources.

Arousal Decreasing Techniques: Numerous techniques for decreasing physical arousal (that means: anxious feelings, rapid heart rate, rapid breathing) can help. These include: biofeedback, mindfulness, deep muscle relaxation, meditation, etc.

Regular Routine: Maintaining a healthy, regular daily routine is very important for a person with Panic Disorder.