Panic disorder is intense fear accompanied by bodily sensations, occurring when a person has recurrent, unexpected panic attacks. It is a type of anxiety disorder.
Generally, a person with panic disorder will begin to gain concern about future potential attacks, start to avoid places where they had the panic attacks, and lose control over their life.
Like generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), the predominant characteristic is free floating (unfocused) anxiety.
Panic attacks are intense fears accompanied by pounding heart, trembling, shortness of breath, fear of losing control, fear of dying. Somatic symptoms often most salient: breathlessness, sweating, choking, nausea, heart palpitations. Panic attacks in and of themselves are normal but don't necessarily indicate disorder.
A crucial part of panic disorder is that a person's anxiety provokes catastrophizing, which is when someone distorts and exaggerates thoughts about their future.
Panic attacks have positive feedback loops. Unpleasant bodily sensations lead to catastrophizing thoughts, which enters a positive feedback loop that amplifies these thoughts. Panic attacks can be artificially triggered. Some ways include administering CO2 and spinning continuously in an office chair.