The essential features are recurrent attacks of severe anxiety (panic attacks) which are not restricted to any particular situation or set of circumstances.
Typical symptoms are palpitations, chest pain, choking sensations, dizziness, and feelings of unreality (depersonalisation or derealization).
Individual attacks usually last for minutes only. The frequency of attacks varies substantially.
Frequent and predictable panic attacks produce fear of being alone or going into public places.
The afflicted persons used to think that they got a serious somatic disease.
The course of panic disorder is long-lasting and is complicated with various comorbidities, in half of the cases with agoraphobia.
The estimation of lifetime prevalence moves between 1-3%.