Stats on Panic Disorder

Crunching the numbers on panic disorder

By PT Staff, published on July 1, 1993 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016


Definition: Illness characterized by spontaneous episodes of
intense, gripping terror accompanied by heart palpitations, dizziness,
and smothering sensations.

Causes: psychological vulnerabilities, stress, unresolved childhood
issues, or a combination of all three.

Length of typical panic attack: 10 minutes

Typical frequency of panic attacks: four attacks over four weeks or
one or more attacks followed by a month of fearful anticipation of more

Percentage of panic-disorder (PD) patients with additional
psychological and psychiatric conditions: up to 70.

Number of PD patients who also suffer agoraphobia -- a fear of any
situation which help or escape is difficult or impossible: 1 in 3

Percentage of PD patients who suffer depression as well: 40


Number of Americans who experience panic-attack symptoms per month:
1 million

Number of Americans who will suffer from PD at some point in their
lives: 3 million (or 1 in 75)

Percentage aged 18-34: 37; aged 35-64: 60

Average age of onset: 24

Female to male ratio: 72:28

Percentage who are married: 51

Percentage who are divorced: 24

Percentage who are unable to drive farther than three miles from
their home: 50

Percentage who abuse alcohol: 30; drugs: 17; tranquilizers:

Percentage whose work quality declines: 83; who lose jobs or
income: 67; who are unable to work for at least one month: 43

Percentage who have attempted suicide: 20

Percentage who are financially dependent on welfare or disability:


Standard treatment: behavioral or drug therapy

Best results: a combination of both

Percentage of patients that treatment helps significantly:

Most common behavioral treatment: graduated exposure to simulated
panic situations (desensitization)

Time it takes for improvement from behavior therapy, in weeks

Fastest-working drug with least side effects:

Time it takes for benzodiadzepines to reduce symptoms, in weeks:

Percentage who stop drug treatment due to side effects: up to

Percentage of PD patients who visit the emergency room in a
six-month period: 28

--Source: The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)