Below is a list of questions that relate to life experiences common among people diagnosed with panic disorder—an anxiety disorder characterized by recurring unexpected panic attacks. Please read each question carefully and indicate whether you have experienced these thoughts or symptoms in the past year. Keep in mind that the effects of certain drugs or medications, as well as certain medical conditions, can cause panic attacks so you should discuss your symptoms with a doctor.

Note that panic disorder refers to recurrent unexpected panic attacks—that is, the attack appears to occur from out of the blue. In contrast, expected panic attacks occur when there is an obvious cue or trigger, such as a specific phobia. In the U.S., roughly 50% of people with panic disorder experience both unexpected and expected panic attacks.

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Have you ever experienced an abrupt surge of intense fear or discomfort seemingly out of the blue, that lasted several minutes?

If yes, have you experienced any of the following symptoms during those minutes? Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate?


Trembling or shaking?

Shortness of breath or a feeling that you are being smothered?

Feeling like you are choking?

Chest pain or discomfort?

Nausea or stomach ache?

Feeling dizzy, light-headed or faint?

Chills or heat sensations?

"Pins and needles" (numbness or a tingling sensation)?

A feeling that you are crazy or losing control?

A sense of being detached from yourself or your surroundings, or observing yourself from outside your body?

Worried that you are going to die?

For at least one month after you have had this experience, have you:
Consistently worried that you might experience these symptoms again?

Taken steps to avoid a repeat attack—for example, avoiding unfamiliar situations?

In the past year, have you experienced withdrawal symptoms when not under the influence of alcohol, such as nausea, trouble sleeping, restlessness, sweating, racing heart, or shaking?

During the last year, has the use of recreational drugs (e.g. cocaine, amphetamines, cannabis) impacted your ability to function or fulfill your responsibilities with at work, school, or home?

Have you been diagnosed with cardiac arrhythmias, hyperthyroidism, asthma, COPD, or irritable bowel syndrome?

Panic attacks may also be the result of another undiagnosed mental health condition.

Do you feel intense worry or fear of being judged negatively in social situations?

Do you have a fear of a certain situation, animal, or object that causes you to experience the panic, sweating, trembling, and/or heart palpitations?

Do you experience persistent and excessive worry about a number of different things, so much so that it interferes with your daily life?

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Last Updated: Jul 23, 2018