The doctor will ask about your symptoms and how often they happen. You will also be asked how these attacks effect your day to day life. A panic attack can be diagnosed based on your symptoms. It may take a bit longer to diagnose a panic disorder.

The doctor will look for certain factors that suggest a panic disorder. The American Association of Psychiatrists require some or all of the following:

  • Repeated, unexpected panic attacks. There is intense fear that fades after a few minutes.
  • At least one month of worry about having another panic attack
  • Worry about what may happen during a panic attack. May worry about a heart attack or losing control.
  • A change in behavior because of the attacks such as not going back to a place where a prior attack happened.

Your doctor will ask if you have problems with:

  • Keeping a normal routine
  • Work
  • School
  • Being in public places or situations


Special screening tests may be given. These tests can find other mental health issues that may need to be treated. Many people with panic disorder also have:

Your doctor may do lab tests to rule out other causes for your health problems.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD
  • Review Date: 12/2018 -
  • Update Date: 02/26/2019 -