Generalized anxiety disorder (or GAD) is characterized by excessive, exaggerated anxiety and worry about everyday life events with no obvious reasons for worry. People with symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder tend to always expect disaster and can't stop worrying about health, money, family, work, or school.
Panic attacks are different from other anxiety symptoms because they tend to have a sudden onset. They are accompanied by intense fear or terror, and a powerful desire to escape. Because panic attacks occur in the context of many different disorders, it is important for the clinician to distinguish between two different types of panic attacks: 1) expected (cued), 2) unexpected (un-cued).
There isn't a lab test specifically for panic disorder. Your doctor probably will examine you and rule out other health issues. If you’ve had two or more random panic attacks and live in fear of a repeat episode, you likely have panic disorder. Treatments. You doctor may refer you to a psychotherapist.
A panic attack is not dangerous, but does provide a terrifying experience as individuals feel out of control and unable to predict and when the next attack may occur. Panic attacks when left untreated can lead to other complications including depression, substance abuse, phobias, medical complications, and even suicide.
I get asked from time to time about the difference between “panic disorder” and “post traumatic stress disorder.” I know about panic disorder from personal experience and PTSD from association as a mental health social worker. The definition of the word “trauma” is what separates the two anxiety disorders.