What is panic disorder (PD) and how does Talkiatry treat it?

What is panic disorder (PD) and how does Talkiatry treat it?

Panic disorder (PD) is one of many types of anxiety disorders. Anxiety often contributes to panic attacks, which are episodes of feeling terrified without being in any immediate danger.

Reviewed by:
Tracey Griffin, LMHC
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July 8, 2021
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Key takeaways

Panic disorder (PD) is one of many types of anxiety disorders. Anxiety often contributes to panic attacks, which are episodes of feeling terrified without being in any immediate danger. You are not alone if you feel that you are experiencing PD: about 6 million people in the U.S. suffer from this condition. 

People with PD live in constant fear of panic attacks as it is common for them to occur unexpectedly, without warning. Symptoms of an attack usually last for 10 to 20 minutes, but in extreme cases, they may last for more than an hour. The symptoms can also differ from person to person, and the experience can be unique.

Panic disorder symptoms

A major symptom of PD, the DSM-5 defines panic attacks as surges of intense fear or discomfort that peak within minutes. There are two categories for panic attacks—expected and unexpected. Expected panic attacks are typically associated with a specific, known fear. In contrast, unexpected panic attacks often occur for no apparent reason and, in most cases, are not proportional to the danger that exists in the environment.

Panic attacks occur when a person experiences four or more of the following:

  • Danger or threat of impending disaster.
  • Anxiety about losing control or losing one's life.
  • Heart pounding at a rapid rate.
  • Trembling, shaking, or sweating.
  • Feeling short of breath or a tightness in the throat.
  • Feelings of chills and hot flashes.
  • Nausea or chest pains.
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or faintness
  • Numbness or tingling sensation

As a primary symptom of panic disorders, panic attacks are usually unexpected and recurrent. Further, at least one panic attack is generally followed by one month or more of anxiety that causes a change in behavior and the avoidance of situational triggers of attacks.

The symptoms of panic disorder are very similar to other anxiety disorders or medical conditions, which is why it is essential to have Talkiatry's medical professionals diagnose panic disorders based on symptoms, behaviors, and conditions defined by the DSM-5.

Treatment for panic disorder

Fortunately, there are ways to prevent panic attacks that can be achieved by using medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of both. The duration of treatment depends on the severity of the condition and the response to treatment. However, not everyone with panic disorder requires treatment unless their condition is severely hindering their lives.  

How Talkiatry treats panic disorder

Talkiatry has psychiatrists who specialize in treating Panic Disorder. Our PD specialists carefully assess your condition and needs then prescribe the right course of action. 

Medication management

To help make panic attacks less frequent or less severe, our psychiatrists will typically prescribe medication including serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), or tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). SSRIs target serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with mood. By balancing serotonin levels, SSRIs help regulate mood, decrease anxiety, and improve sleep.

The anxiety and fear caused by panic disorder can also be reduced by anti-anxiety medications like benzodiazepines. Medication like this can cause the central nervous system to slow down, which can make a person feel calmer and more relaxed. As useful as this may be for treating anxiety, such medications may also lead to dependence or abuse, which is why working with your psychiatrist is essential in limiting relapses and side effects.


Psychotherapy is also effective in treating panic disorder and is often combined with medication management. Our PD specialists will use an in-depth approach to explore your thoughts and feelings in order to help you identify the triggers of your panic attacks and change your thinking, behaviors, and reactions. As you begin to respond differently to stimuli, the attacks decrease and may ultimately stop.

Next step with Talkiatry

Talkiatry is a psychiatric practice offering outpatient mental health services, including diagnosis, psychotherapy, and medication management to patients living with panic disorder.

We believe in providing accessible, affordable mental health-management solutions, which is why we provide personalized in-network healthcare services that are focused on helping you feel better, faster. In addition, to match our therapeutic and modern approach to psychiatric care, we offer flexible telemedicine and in-office appointment options.

Although they're not physically harmful, panic attacks can take a toll on your mental health and stop you from doing the things you love. If you believe you have PD or a variation of an anxiety disorder, we highly recommend you start by taking our free and easy assessment to receive a preliminary diagnosis. Not only will you get a better understanding of your current symptoms, but we'll also match you with the psychiatrists on staff that can provide you with the treatment you need to manage PD. 

Take the assessment today to get started.

Talkiatry is a mental health practice, and our clinicians review everything we write. However, articles are never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you think you may need mental health help, talk to a psychiatrist. If you or someone you know may be in danger, call 911 or the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 right away.

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Frequently asked questions

Does Talkiatry take my insurance?

We're in network with major insurers, including:

  • Aetna
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Cigna
  • Humana
  • Medicare
  • Oscar
  • United Healthcare
  • Optum
  • Compsych

Even if your insurer isn't on the list, we might still accept it. Use the insurance eligibility checker in our online assessment to learn more.

Can I get an estimate of my visit cost?

The best way to get a detailed estimate of your cost is to contact your insurance company directly, since your cost will depend on the details of your insurance.  

For some, it’s just a co-pay. If you have an unmet deductible it could be more.  

Call the number on your insurance card and ask about your plan’s coverage for outpatient psychiatric services.

What kind of treatment does Talkiatry provide?

At Talkiatry, we specialize in psychiatry, meaning the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions. Your psychiatrist will meet with you virtually on a schedule you set together, devise a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs and preferences, and work with you to adjust your plan as you meet your goals.

If your treatment plan includes medication, your psychiatrist will prescribe and manage it. If needed, your psychiatrist can also refer you to a Talkiatry therapist.

What's the difference between a therapist and psychiatrist?

Psychiatrists are doctors who have specialized training in diagnosing and treating complex mental health conditions through medication management. If you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, or similar, a psychiatrist may be a good place to start.  

Other signs that you should see a psychiatrist include:  

  • Your primary care doctor or another doctor thinks you may benefit from the services of a psychiatrist and provides a referral    
  • You are interested in taking medication to treat a mental health condition  
  • Your symptoms are severe enough to regularly interfere with your everyday life

The term “therapist” can apply to a range of professionals including social workers, mental health counselors, psychologists, professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, and psychoanalysts. Working with a therapist generally involves regular talk therapy sessions where you discuss your feelings, problem-solving strategies, and coping mechanisms to help with your condition.

How does Talkiatry compare to face-to-face treatment?

For most patients, Talkiatry treatment is just as effective as in-person psychiatry (American Psychiatric Association, 2021), and much more convenient. That said, we don’t currently provide treatment for schizophrenia, primary eating disorder treatment, or Medication Assisted Treatment for substance use disorders.

Who can prescribe medication?

All our psychiatrists (and all psychiatrists in general) are medical doctors with additional training in mental health. They can prescribe any medication they think can help their patients. In order to find out which medications might be appropriate, they need to conduct a full evaluation. At Talkiatry, first visits are generally scheduled for 60 minutes or more to give your psychiatrist time to learn about you, work on a treatment plan, and discuss any medications that might be included.

Tracey Griffin, LMHC

Tracey Griffin is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who is dedicated to helping people align with their most authentic selves over the last 11 years. This includes addressing the struggles of mental health in an open, empathetic, and non-judgmental, therapeutic relationship. She is dedicated to establishing a collaborative working relationship with individuals to help achieve their goals while living a fulfilled and balanced life. Tracey received her Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling from Pace University following her Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology from the same institution. She has been trained in performing biopsychosocial assessments and is also a Credentialed Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor.

Tracey’s treatment approach is person-centered in conjunction with evidence-based practices such as cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and motivational interviewing while remaining culturally sensitive and inclusive. She is well versed in harm reduction as well as abstinence-based approaches to addiction treatment and roots her practice to focus on treating the whole self which can include exploration of spirituality and purpose. Tracey has experience working with individuals who experience co-occurring disorders, anxiety, depression, codependency, addiction, personality disorders, LGBTQ, men’s issues, and trauma.

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