Not everyone who has panic attacks has a panic disorder.

Those patients diagnosed with panic disorder have frequent, unexpected panic attacks. At least one of the attacks has been followed by one month or more of ongoing worry about having another attack; continued fear of the consequences of an attack, such as losing control, having a heart attack or “going crazy;” or significantly changing behavior, such as avoiding situations they think may trigger a panic attack.

The panic attacks aren’t caused by drugs or other substance use, a medical condition, or another mental health condition, such as social phobia or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Those who have panic attacks but not a diagnosed panic disorder can still benefit from treatment.

If panic attacks aren’t treated, they can get worse and develop into panic disorder or phobias.