Panic disorder diagnosis

If your experience with anxiety or panic attacks is affecting your everyday life, you should make an appointment to speak with your GP. They may perform some tests to check if another health condition may be causing your symptoms such as heart or thyroid issues. They may also refer you to a mental health professional for a full assessment.

A mental health professional will diagnose panic disorder based on criteria in the International Classification of Diseases 11th Revision (ICD-11) developed by the World Health Organisation. For a diagnosis of panic disorder the individual must have experienced repeated and unexpected panic attacks as well as one month or more of the following:

  • Persistent worry about having further panic attacks.
  • Changing behaviours to avoid situations that may trigger an attack.

It must not be better explained by another mental disorder, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), specific phobia, generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), or separation anxiety disorder. It must also not be due to another health condition, or caused by substance use such as medication or drug use.

It may feel like your symptoms cannot improve, but treatment and recovery from panic disorder is possible.

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